Open Alcohol Container in Vehicle

With most of the focus on alcohol and motor vehicles going to driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, it can be surprising that the presence of any open alcoholic container would be a crime—even if no one in the car was intoxicated or had consumed any alcohol. Commonly known in Texas as the open container law, with few exceptions it is indeed a crime to have an open alcohol container in a vehicle in Texas.

Though it may seem like a minor offense, all statutory penalties and criminal record blemishes are worth fighting against to protect your quality of life, and an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney can do just that.

Dallas Defense Lawyer for Open Alcohol Container in Vehicle

When it comes to Texas DWI law, not even minor misdemeanors like an open container violation should be taken lightly. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Dallas County can fight your violation of Texas open container law as well as any other associated charges, such as first DWI. If you are facing an open alcohol container in vehicle charge in Dallas County or the surrounding areas in Denton County, Collin County, Tarrant County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Wise County, or Ellis County, contact the DWI defense lawyers of Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.

Your first consultation is free, so call (972) 233-5700 today and schedule your free consultation to find out what Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can do for your Texas open container violation or other DWI-related charges.


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Important Terms Regarding Open Alcohol Container in Vehicle

In order to understand Texas open container law, there are a few definitions of legal terms outlined in Section 49.031 of the Texas Penal Code that are important to understand first. An experienced DFW metroplex criminal defense attorney can assist you in understanding how the following definitions affect your Texas open container case:

  • Open container – a bottle, can, or any receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, has been opened, has a broken seal, or has contents which are partially removed
  • Passenger area of a motor vehicle – the area of a motor vehicle designed to seat the driver and passengers of a vehicle, excluding a locked glove compartment or similar locked storage compartment, the trunk of the vehicle, and the area behind the last upright seat of a vehicle that has no trunk
  • Public highway – the entire width between and immediately adjacent to the boundary lines of any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly-maintained way of which at least part is open for motor vehicle travel

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Texas Open Container Law Defined

According to Tex. Penal Code Section § 49.031(b) it is against the law to knowingly possess an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, whether or not the vehicle is being operated, stopped, or parked. Each open container found in a single stop is considered a single and separate violation of the Texas open container law.

There are a few exceptions to this statute specifically defined in Section § 49.031(c). According to this section, it is not a criminal offense to have an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle in Texas in the following circumstances:

  • The vehicle was designed, maintained, and/or used primarily for transporting people for compensation, such as a limousine, taxi, or bus
  • The open container was in the living quarters of a self-contained camper, motor coach, motorhome, or recreational vehicle

Unless your open container case qualifies under one of these two exceptions, you could be facing the penalties for a Texas open container conviction. An experienced DUI defense lawyer serving the metroplex will fight to protect your future from such consequences by working for a favorable outcome such as a case reduction or dismissal.


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Penalties in Texas for Open Alcohol Container in Vehicle

Each count of an open alcohol container in a vehicle in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor. In Texas, Class C misdemeanors are punishable by fine up to $500 as specified in Tex. Penal Code § 12.23. The offense can be upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor with 6-180 days of jail time and up to $2,000 in fines if a DWI conviction is involved.

When you are charged with an open container offense, the police officer will issue a written citation and a notice to appear in court instead of you appearing before a judge. Signing this agreement to appear in court at the specified date and time will enable your release from the officer’s custody. An experienced DWI defense lawyer serving Dallas County can motion to change this date, as well as implement other strategies to keep your criminal record clean of a misdemeanor open container offense in Texas.


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Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy | Defense Attorney for DFW Open Container Charge

If you are facing an open container charge or other DWI violation in Dallas, Garland, Irving, Addison, Richardson, Mesquite, Denton, Fort Worth, or Arlington, contact the experienced defense lawyers at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.

They will build a comprehensive, customized defense and fight for a favorable outcome in your Texas open container law case. Call (972) 233-5700 today to schedule your free initial case consultation.


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Client Testimonials

  • 5 stars
    I would like to thank the Law Office of Richard C. McConathy for your awesome and courtious attention to professionalism. I am amazed at Richard and Brian''s ability to get a fast resolution and am grateful to them for the time put into this matter. I could feel the genuine concern and dedication that the attorney''s put on my case.
    - Andrea L.
  • 5 stars
    I hired The Law Office of Richard C. McConathy after I got arrested for DWI. In my life of work, I absolutely could not have a conviction on my record. At trial, I was found Not Guilty. Brian and Richard are the best lawyers in Dallas!
    - David C.
  • 5 stars
    I was able to keep my driver''s license and keep a clean a record as both the ALR and DWI case were both dismissed! I was pleased with their professionalism and ability to work with me to achieve the best possible outcome, dismissals all around.
    - James M.
  • 5 stars
    I was pulled over on the North Dallas Tollway for going 90 mph. The cop said that I was all over the road, and failed all the field tests and was obviously intoxicated. I pretty much lost all hope that I would walk away from this. That was until I found Richard McConathy. Richard and his firm fought the DA and eventually got my case dismissed. I couldn''t give a bigger recommendation for these guys. If you''re in trouble don''t hesitate, it is worth it.
    - Greg B.
  • 5 stars
    The law offices of Richard C. McConathy represented me with the utmost professionalism and they secured a victory for my probation revocation case. My case was nine years old and I was told by other firms that it would be very difficult to get the judge to revoke. This firm took my case on, and not only won the judgment, but also got the original probation case conditions dismissed. I highly recommend this law firm to any person in need if legal representation. They are very considerate and extremely knowledgeable.
    - Brant G.
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