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7/14/2006 ‘Merlot to Go’ legislation signed into law
The governor has recently signed into law legislation that will allow restaurant patrons to take home with them unfinished bottles of wine, making Rhode Island one of 31 states to enact the so-called “Merlot to Go” law.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren) and Rep. Peter L. Lewiss (D-Dist. 37, Westerly).

Previous open-container laws prohibited driving in Rhode Island with any bottle of alcohol that had been opened and was in an area of the vehicle accessible to drivers or passengers. As a result, diners were sometimes forced to leave behind unfinished bottles of wine.

Senator Felag and Representative Lewiss said the new law, which has the support of the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Association, is a good middle ground between wanting to support and promote the restaurant industry in our state and wanting to keep over-indulgent drinkers off the road.

Under the law, a patron will be allowed to leave a restaurant with a partially-consumed bottle of wine if he or she purchased a full-course meal at the establishment, if the restaurant securely packages the unfinished wine and makes a note of the date of the meal on the container and if the bottle is placed in the vehicle in a location inaccessible to occupants, such as the trunk or behind the last upright seat.

For more information, contact:
Shana Mancinho, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457