Texas’s Open Container Laws Can Be Confusing
In the great State of Texas, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in one’s vehicle. But a quick peek at Reddit shows that residents are very confused on this point. Better understanding the state’s open container laws can help clear up all the confusion.
Texas’s Open Container Laws
In Texas, the open container law is contained in the Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle statute. This offense involves knowingly having an open container with alcohol in it in the passenger area of a car, truck, or another kind of vehicle on a public highway (regardless of whether the vehicle is stopped, parked, or in motion). Simply having an open container in your vehicle with you when you're stopped on a public road, street, highway, or interstate is enough to be charged with a violation of the law.
What Constitutes an Open Container?
In Texas, an open container is any receptacle, such as a can or bottle, that has any amount of alcohol in it and for which any of the following apply:
Any amount of the container’s contents has been removed
The container’s seal is broken
The Passenger Area of the Vehicle
The passenger area in the statute simply refers to where people sit in the vehicle. Additionally, however, the open container must be within reasonable reach of the motorist and must be visible from the driver’s seat. If any of the following apply, the open container will not be considered to be in the passenger area:
The container is in the glove box
The container is in the vehicle’s trunk
The container is in the area behind the backseat (if it has no trunk)
Where All the Confusion Comes From
A lot of the confusion in Texas comes from overlapping jurisdictions that include counties and municipalities that are not always in accordance with state laws. Further, state laws do not take actual impairment into consideration when levying open container charges. In other words, it is enough to simply have an open container in your vehicle (without a drop of alcohol in your system) to be charged with an open container violation.
The Consequences of an Open Container Conviction
The offense of having an open container in your car is a Class C misdemeanor, which involves a ticket and a fine only (as long as your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent). It is important to note, however, that having a misdemeanor on your record amounts to a criminal record and can have far-reaching consequences in your life.
Turn to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Attorney Today
If you are facing an open container charge – or any other misdemeanor charge – simply accepting the consequences of a conviction is unlikely to serve your best interests. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a forthright criminal attorney who has the experience and commitment to help you tackle your charge head-on while helping to obtain your case's most favorable outcome. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.