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
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
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!