Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas can be a very serious offense that can affect your life for years to come. It carries punishments that include steep fines, loss of license, and in some cases, even jail time. But driving under the influence isn’t the only alcohol-related crime you need to beware of. Many states, including Texas, also have open container laws.
Open container laws make it illegal for anyone to have an open container of alcohol in the car. Even if the driver of the vehicle has not been drinking, if you are pulled over you can still be fined for having an open container.
How to avoid being charged with open container laws
If you want to avoid being pulled over and charged for an open container violation, understanding the details of the law and what constitutes an “open container” is helpful.
In Texas, open container means any unsealed bottle, can or container that is used to hold alcohol.
The location of the container is also important. According to Texas law, the container cannot be in the “passenger area” of the vehicle. If the bottle is anywhere within reach of the driver, such as the passenger seat, the cupholder, or even on the backseat, it is considered an open container and you are liable to be charged.
However, if it is locked in your trunk or glove compartment, it should not technically be considered in the “passenger area.
Here is some other important information about open container laws in Texas:
- You do not have to be consuming the alcohol to be charged with an open container violation.
- If you are carrying a sealed bottle in the car, it is not against the law.
- Open container laws can be enforced even if the car is parked, as long as it is near a public highway.
- If you are pulled over when driving while intoxicated and also have an open container, the charges against you will be enhanced.
- Minors caught in possession of alcohol can receive steep fines and community service hours.
An open container violation is a Class C misdemeanor that remains on your record. If you are charged with violating open container laws, you will receive a citation, a maximum fine of up to $500 and a summons to appear before a judge.
Contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Texas
Being charged with an open container violation in Texas should not be taken lightly. Having an experienced Texas DWI attorney on your side who understands the finer points of open container laws and how to navigate the Texas courts will give you the best chance moving forward. At the Law Offices of Andrew Williams, we have resolved hundreds of DWI and open container cases.
Give us a call today at 281-358-9111 or contact us online.