Posted on 6/27/22

It is important to understand Texas open container laws before you take an open container of alcohol on the road. Many Texas drivers unintentionally break the open container law by mistake or because they have heard common drunk driving myths. You could face criminal charges that could result in steep fines and a criminal record that could create barriers to your career, education, and financial future. 

What Counts as an Open Container in Texas?

According to Texas law, an open container means a bottle, can, or another receptacle that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage that:

  • Is open

  • Has been opened

  • Has a broken seal, or

  • The contents of which are partially removed

Prosecutors do not have to prove that you were actively drinking from an open container to face charges. Simply having an open container is enough to be charged. For example, if there is an open can of beer or a half-consumed vodka bottle, a driver could face criminal charges for having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. However, a fully-sealed bottle of alcohol in the vehicle is not considered an open container. 

Defenses Against Open Container Charges

Prosecutors must prove multiple elements to convict a person of having an open container of alcohol in their vehicle. First, they need to prove that the container in question meets the definition of an “open container.” Additionally, they must prove that the container is in the “passenger area of the motor vehicle.” 

The passenger area of the vehicle is the area in which people can sit in the car. The open container must be reasonably in-reach from the driver’s seat and visible. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to argue that the container was not in a passenger area because it was:

  • In the glove compartment 

  • In another locked storage area within the vehicle

  • In the trunk of the vehicle

  • In the area behind the driver’s upright seat, if the vehicle does not have a trunk

There are also some exceptions to the open container law. Passengers on a bus, train, limo, or taxi may be able to claim an exemption. Those with recreational vehicles (RVs) or self-contained motorhomes or trailers may meet the exception if the open container is in the living quarters of the vehicles.

Reach Out to an Open Container Defense Attorney

Open container violations are more serious than many realize. If you are convicted, you could be facing Class C Misdemeanor charges that could negatively affect your insurance costs, employment, financial aid, and more. If you receive an open container ticket by itself, you will not face jail time. However, if you are on probation or parole, this violation could be even more serious. These charges are often coupled with other, more serious charges, such as a DWI. Contact Abel Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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