People who are new in Texas and all drivers that drive on the state’s roads need to research Texas open container laws. Not many people know about these laws yet breaking them can have a significant life-changing effect on them. Many people have fallen prey to these laws by mistake and end up facing expensive criminal charges.
Texas open container laws are related to DWI or DUI laws and are complex.
What Is The History And Definition OF Open Container Law?
These laws were passed in 2001 to try and curb drinking and driving incidents in Texas. According to the Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Section 49.031(b):
“A person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. Possession by a person of one or more open containers in a single criminal episode is a single offense.”
That means that even if you were not driving, you can still get charged with having an open container in your vehicle as long as you are on a public highway. You also get charged separately for each open container found in your vehicle.
What Is An Open Container?
The Texas penal code 10, section 49.031(a)(1) defines an open container as:
“a bottle, can, or another receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal or the contents of which are partially removed.”
This means that even in a situation where the seal is broken but all the alcohol is still in the container, you can still get arrested. So, the bottle can be fully sealed to avoid any issues with the law.
Another important element is that the open bottle will only get you in trouble if it’s found in the passenger area of your vehicle. That means anywhere in the vehicle where people can sit where the bottle is within the driver’s reach.
You won’t be in trouble if the open bottle is:
- In the trunk of your car
- In the gloved compartment or any locked storage area in your car
- If your vehicle does not have a trunk, the space behind your upright seat.
An individual doesn’t have to be drinking or smell of alcohol for them to be arrested for having an open container in their vehicle.
What About Passengers Drinking While In The Car?
Open container laws apply to both the driver and the passengers. Remember that as long as the open container is found at any area in a vehicle where a person can sit, you and your passengers can be arrested. Even if the passengers and the driver are not drunk, the presence of the open container is enough to result in an arrest.
You Need A Springs, Tx DWI Lawyer
An open container charge seems simple but it can easily lead to a bogus DWI charge. So, the best approach is to hire an experienced DWI lawyer that can help you beat those charges.