What Are the Open Container Laws in Texas?

Texas is hot. There’s no doubt about that – but what there seems to be a lot of doubt about is whether or not it’s OK for anyone in your car to crack a cold one and enjoy.

It should be obvious enough that drivers won’t be able to enjoy any refreshing libations, but what about their passengers?

Well, generally speaking, it’s illegal for anyone to knowingly possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle – that includes the backseats! This law applies when the vehicle is on a public highway or road, regardless of whether it’s in motion or not. So, no – passengers can’t drink alcohol in a vehicle regardless of which seat they’re in.

What Is an Open Container?

So, what exactly is an open container? In Texas, an open container is anything that contains any amount of alcohol and isn’t factory-sealed. That means capped bottles, cans, or flasks that were previously open still count as “open containers” – even re-corked wine bottles count! By contrast, a can of beer that was never popped won’t count as an open container.

What Should I Do with Open Containers?

If you must travel with open containers of alcohol, you must do so by placing them in the trunk of your vehicle, where they are inaccessible to passengers.

This is the only safe way to drive with open containers, unless you drive a hatchback or station wagon, where there is no separate “trunk.” In these types of vehicles, there is an exception to open container laws as long as they’re placed behind the last upright seat in the vehicle.

Are There Other Exceptions to This Law?

There are some exceptions to the open container laws in Texas, particularly as they concern taxis, limos, buses, and motorhomes. Passengers in these vehicles may drink alcohol or possess open containers without violating the law.

What Is the Penalty for Violating an Open Container Law?

Violating Texas’ open container law is a Class C Misdemeanor, which is punishable with a fine of up to $500. Beware, however, that a fine can be applied to each open container found in your vehicle, which can dramatically change how a conviction can affect you.

Chances are you will also be investigated for DWI and may even be arrested for it – in this case, the open containers in your vehicle may be used as evidence against you.

Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. Can Help

If you are facing criminal charges that include accusations of violating Texas’ open container laws, our criminal defense attorneys at Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. can help. By taking a personalized approach to building your defense, we may be able to help you mitigate or avoid responsibility for your charges.

For more information, contact Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. online now!