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After several delays, Trolley Pub, a pedal-powered BYOB vehicle, officially launches in Arlington today—minus the BYOB part.
Founder Kai Kaapro tells Y&H that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reached out to him this week to discuss how the Trolley Pub—as well as limos and party buses—”fit within their regulatory scheme,” Kaapro says. Instead, Trolley Pub will operate more as a pub-crawl conveyance, which customers will book in order to pedal to three to four different destinations within Clarendon.
But it looks this isn’t just a minor hiccup in Trolley’s Pub’s quest to allow people to drink while they pedal. “It is illegal to take a drink of alcohol on a public street, and there is no exception for persons on a trolley,” says Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control COO Curtis Coleburn via email.
The Virginia ABC apparently wasn’t involved in initial discussions with government agencies about the Trolley Pub, and the Arlington County Police Department seemed to be under the impression that the vehicle didn’t violate any laws. Last week, Arlington police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told Y&H that he was “99.9 percent positive that they’re absolutely in no violation of any sort,” but he was looking into it. Reached again this morning, Sternbeck said, “This whole issue is under review again and will remain under review.”
Also, don’t expect a trolley pub to hit the streets of D.C. According to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration spokesman Bill Hager, District law prohibits drinking an alcoholic beverage or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle on any street, alley, park, or parking area. Sorry.
UPDATE: Kaapro follows up with this statement:
The Virginia ABC informed us yesterday that, as it interprets Virginia law, the consumption of alcoholic beverages by passengers is prohibited in any privately chartered vehicle other than charter boats. Needless to say, this came as quite a surprise to us, as the practice is commonplace in limousines and aboard chartered buses taking passengers to sporting events or on farm winery tours. Apparently, the ABC now considers all of these activates to be illegal. Our attorneys are attempting to sort out the conflicting interpretations we’ve received from ABC and other state law enforcement agencies, and we hope to have the confusion cleared up shortly. Until then, however, we will have to ask that our customers be patient as under the ABC’s current interpretation of the law we must prohibit our passengers from consuming any alcohol aboard the trolley.
Photo via Trolley Pub