Texas, like many other states, has laws against driving with an open container of alcohol in your car. Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.031: Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle defines this law. Texas does not allow drivers to have an unsealed bottle, can, or cup of any type of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while behind the wheel. This is true no matter if the vehicle is in motion, stopped, or even parked.
If you need to travel with a bottle of wine or liquor that is already open, there are a few legal ways to do that as outlined in Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.031. This includes storing it in a:
- Locked glove compartment or console
- Trunk of the vehicle
- Cargo area behind the last row of seats, such as in a van or SUV
Understanding the Severity of This Type of Offense
Facing a charge of possession of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle is less severe than a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. You will face Class C misdemeanor charges for having an open container in your vehicle.
Penalties for Violating the Texas Open Container Law
A violation of the open container law is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
This can also be an enhancement to other charges. For example, if you have an open container in your vehicle and you are arrested for DWI, you will face a minimum jail sentence of six days for your first offense.
Police Officers Generally Issue Tickets for Violations of Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.031
Unlike a drunk driving offense, the police officer who stops you will not arrest you and take you in front of a magistrate for an open container violation on its own. Instead, they will give you a written citation — a ticket — and notice to appear in court. They will ask you to sign that you agree to appear in court and give you a copy of the citation. Then, the police officer will release you.
The citation will include information about your court date, including when and where you need to appear and the offense, or it will give you a way to check this information online. If you fail to show up for this court date, they could issue a warrant for your arrest.
Some Vehicles Can Have Open Containers
According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.031, there are some exceptions to the law against possessing an open alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. These include:
- Buses and taxicabs whose operators allow alcoholic beverages
- The rear passenger compartment of limousines
- The living quarters of a motorhome, camper, or similar vehicle
Talk to a Texas DWI Defense Attorney About Your Case Today
If you face court because of an open container violation, or if you got an open container charge in addition to a Texas drunk driving arrest, the team from Eddington Worley
can help. Call us today at 855-600-6695 to discuss your case and learn how we can fight for a more favorable outcome in your case.