The Texas “Open Container” law is codified in the statute as Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle. This law makes it illegal for any person to possess an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway. Whether or not the vehicle was operated, stopped, or parked does not matter when it comes to this offense.
OPEN CONTAINER ATTORNEY FAQs
- What is the current Texas law about Open Containers?
- What is an open container?
- Can I be charged if the container was in the trunk, glovebox or backseat?
- Can I be arrested for an Open Container violation?
- How can I be charged with Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle?
- What is the punishment for Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle?
- What is the DWI enhancement for an Open Container?
Have you been charged with Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.
The current Texas law is as follows:1
(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.
In Texas, an open container can mean any receptacle containing any amount of alcohol, that is open, was opened before, has a broken seal or has had a portion of its contents removed. If it contains alcohol and isn’t sealed, Texas law defines it as an open container.2 Whether or not a seal is broken is a factual question that a jury would determine in the event that you take your case to trial.
The statute defines the passenger area of a vehicle as the area “designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle.”3 However, the statute clearly excludes three areas from the definition:
- A locked glove compartment
- A trunk of a vehicle
- Or the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle if it does not have a trunk
Texas law says that you can only be issued a citation for an open container violation.4 However, if there is another violation that the police are planning on charging you with, then you can be arrested for that violation.
You can be charged with Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle if a police officer believes that all of the elements of the law as described above have been met. The police officer does not need a warrant to take you into custody.
There are two exceptions to the open container law: (1) It is an exception to the statute if the defendant was a passenger in a motor vehicle primarily used for transportation for hire. Examples of such would include, a bus, taxicab, or limousine.5 (2) It is also an exception if the passenger was in the living quarters of a motorized house coach, house trailer, or recreational vehicle.6
Under Texas law, the minimum penalty for a DWI conviction is increased to 6 days confinement if the state proves you had an open container at the time you were driving.8
Recent Case Results
- 2019 Not Guilty in Collin County DWI >0.15
- 2019 Not Guilty in Dallas County Indecency with a Child
- Oral Argument at the United States Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Prosecutorial Misconduct Claim arising out of Northern District of Texas
- 2018 Not Guilty in Martin County Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer
- Not Guilty in 2018 Dallas County DWI Trial
- Client cleared in Dallas Police Shooting wrongful accusation
- Federal sentencing results in 10 Year Downward Deviation from Sentencing Guidelines in 2018
- Not Guilty Jury Verdict for client originally accused of Intoxication Manslaughter
- Case Dismissed after picking jury in Aggravated Sexual Assault of Child case in 2017
- United States Attorney dismisses case against client charged in El Paso Federal Court with Possession of Child Pornography
- ALL CHARGES DISMISSED against our client in the Twin Peaks Waco Biker case
- Client “No-billed” by grand jury investigating shooting death case
- Coverage of Case Involving Waco teacher sending messages to student
- Judge returns a Directed Verdict of Acquittal in case involving trainer of professional athletes
- Rare Not Guilty verdict in Rockwall County DWI
- 2016 Dismissal of Fort Worth Federal Possession of Obscene Visual Representation of the Sexual Abuse of Children
- Hill County Money Laundering case Dismissed and civil asset forfeiture assets returned
- Coverage of teen Lewisville client charged with hit-and-run death
- Two Montague County Indecency with a Child cases Dismissed