People in Texas who are stopped by law enforcement investigating a possible case of driving while intoxicated should know other aspects of the law that regulate alcohol in a vehicle. Having possession of an alcoholic beverage while driving can also lead to legal issues. This is often referred to as the “open container” law. When facing charges related to having an open container as well as other charges related to driving while intoxicated, having legal help from an attorney experienced in these cases is critical to a satisfactory resolution and avoiding the harshest penalties.
Open container is defined as having a bottle, can or other object that has alcohol in it while being open, was opened, its seal is broken or has contents that have been partially removed. This must be in the passenger area of the vehicle, which means the area for operation and the seating of passengers. Not included in this is the glove compartment or a locked storage container, the trunk or the area behind the last upright seat if there is no trunk.
The driver must be on a “public highway.” This is a road upon which vehicles travel and is used for such. If the driver has an open container in the passenger compartment while on a public highway, it is a violation. This is true whether the vehicle is in motion or not. This does not apply to passengers on a bus, limousine, taxi or other vehicle used for transport in this way. Nor does it apply if it is a motorhome, a camper, or an RV. Those who are charged with having an open container will face a Class C misdemeanor. A citation will be given in lieu of the person being brought before a magistrate.
Although there will not be jail time and the fine is limited for a conviction on a Class C misdemeanor, that does not mean the charges should not be disputed. This is especially true if they happen in conjunction with a DWI charge. People who are dealing with alcohol-related offenses should make certain they are protected regardless of the circumstances as it can negatively impact their driving privileges and more.
Source: statutes.legis.state.tx.us, “Sec. 49.031. Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle.,” accessed May 8, 2018