Possessing an Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle

It is not uncommon for people to have open containers of alcohol in their vehicles. For example, someone might bring a bottle of wine over to their friend’s house to enjoy at dinner, and since their friend is on a no sugar and no alcohol diet, they decide to bring home what’s left in the $40.00 bottle of wine.

Or, suppose some friends are heading out to a popular bar, but to avoid dropping $15 per drink, they pour some alcohol in plastic red cups and climb into the car to head over to the bar. Another scenario is a people who pop open a beer while they’re driving around town.

Perhaps the driver only has one drink, or none at all, but the passengers are enjoying the cold beers while they’re in their friend’s car. In reality, people have open containers of alcohol in automobiles every day, but by doing so they’re breaking the state’s open container laws.

What Does the Law Say?

Under Section 49.031of the Texas Penal Code, it’s against the law to knowingly possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of an automobile while it’s on a public roadway. “But what if the vehicle is parked?” The law applies whether the vehicle is in motion, stopped or parked with the engine off.

What counts as an open container? Any type of bottle, container or respectable that contains alcohol and has had its seal broken or its contents partially removed. The “passenger area of a motor vehicle,” refers to the areas of an automobile that are designated for seating, and does not include:

  • The trunk,
  • The glove compartment,
  • A locked storage compartment, or
  • The area behind the upright seat of a truck or vehicle without a trunk.

The offense of having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500.

Related: FAQs About Texas DWI

If you’re facing DWI or alcohol-related charges in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth, contact our firm at once for defense representation.

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