Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle is illegal in Texas. Nonetheless, many Texas residents are confused about Texas’s open container laws. Much of the confusion regarding Texas’s open container laws comes down to the differences between how cities and municipalities enforce the laws. However, you can face fines for having an open container in your car in many situations, no matter where you are in the state.
Texas Open Container Laws
The Texas open container law is outlined in the statute called possession of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle. If you knowingly have an open container of alcohol in the passenger areas of a car, truck, or another vehicle on a public highway, you can be charged with this crime. It does not matter whether your vehicle is stopped, parked, or fully in motion. Technically, you do not even have to be driving the vehicle to be charged with this crime. If you are on a public highway, road, street, or interstate, and you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you can be charged.
What is Considered an Open Container in Texas?
The prosecution must prove there was an open container of alcohol in your vehicle to convict you of possession of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle. Under Texas law, an open container is a bottle, can, or another receptacle that has any amount of an alcoholic beverage in it that is open, has any contents partially removed, or has a broken seal. The prosecution must prove that the open container of alcohol was in a passenger area of your vehicle.
A passenger area of a vehicle is where people sit when they are in a car. In other words, the container must be in reasonable reach and visible from the driver’s seat. If the alcohol container is in the glove box, a locked storage area of the vehicle, the trunk, or behind the back seat when there is no trunk in the vehicle, it is not considered in the passenger area.
Different Enforcement of Open Container Laws
Texas residents may be confused about the open container law because of overlapping municipal and county jurisdictions that may not fully support the state law. Additionally, Texas has open container laws that ignore any actual impairment from alcohol of the driver. In other words, someone can be convicted under the open container law without actually being intoxicated.
Regardless of the confusion around the law, if you are convicted of having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you can face serious consequences. If you are only cited for possession of an open container, you will face Class C misdemeanor charges that carry a fine. However, you may also be charged with a DWI if you are intoxicated while driving.
Contact a Dallas/Ft. Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Have you been charged with possession of an open container of alcohol in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? If so, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Abel Law Firm are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.