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.
Open Alcohol Container in Vehicle Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
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 the first DWI.
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
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 is 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 that 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 similarly 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
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, motorcoach, 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.
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 fines 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.
Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for an Open Container Charge | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you are facing an open container charge or other DWI violation, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.