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Texas' Open Container Law

Just about all drivers over the age of 16 in Texas are well-aware of the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Clearly, driving while intoxicated (DWI) can get you into a lot of trouble in Texas; your license could be suspended, you could go to jail, and you’d have a criminal record. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Often, people will bring home an open bottle of wine from a friend’s house, or a passenger will pop open a beer in the car. Other times, passengers will climb into a vehicle with one of those red party cups filled with beer, wine, or a mixed drink. The passengers mistakenly think, “I’m not driving, so I’m not breaking the law.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Possessing an Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle

Under Section 49.031 of the Texas Penal Code, it’s illegal to possess an “open container” of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Sec. 49.031 defines an “open container” as a “bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.”

Sec. 49.031 deals with the “passenger area” of a vehicle, it does not include:

  • A locked glove compartment,
  • The trunk of a motor vehicle, or
  • If the vehicle does not have a trunk, “the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle,” according to the Sec. 49.031.

You commit an offense under Sec. 49.031 if you possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is on a public highway. It does not matter if the vehicle is running or if it is parked. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Even if you’re facing misdemeanor charges, you still don’t want a criminal record! Contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC today for a hard-hitting defense in Plano and Dallas!

Categories: DWI, Open Container