Penalties for an Open Container in Texas

When it comes to open alcoholic beverages in vehicles, each state has enacted its own “open container” statute. Generally, it’s illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of any vehicle that is on a public roadway.

This law can get a little confusing for people. Is it okay to bring an open bottle of wine home from a picnic? Can you transport half empty bottles of liquor from one place to another? Or, are you only allowed to have sealed bottles of alcohol in vehicles?

In Texas, the state’s open container statute is covered under Sec. 49.031 of the Texas Penal Code. Under this section, an open container refers to any bottle, can or receptacle with any amount of alcohol that has been opened, the seal removed, or the contents partially removed.

Here is what the state’s open container law says: It is illegal to knowingly possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle (where people sit) while the vehicle is on a public roadway, regardless if the vehicle is stopped, parked, or in motion.

Note: this does not apply to a locked glove compartment or the trunk of
a vehicle.

Are there any other exceptions? Yes – if the defendant was a passenger in a bus, taxi, limousine, motor home, camper, recreational vehicle, or motor home, then they are not breaking the open container law.

In Texas, violating the state’s open container law is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Open Container Offenses & DWI Arrests

Often, someone is charged with possession of an alcoholic beverage in motor vehicle (open container) at the same time they are charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). That is because many drunk drivers are found with an open container of alcohol in their vehicles at the time of the DWI arrest.

If you are being charged with DWI or having an open container of alcohol, or both, don’t hesitate to contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for a hard-hitting defense! There are many DWI defenses that work; let us find out which strategy is best for you.

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