Do To-Go Alcohol Sales Conflict with Open Container Laws?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that restaurants are allowed to operate in Texas. The recent decision to close bars amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus has received attention, including protests by bar owners and employees. Texas had earlier enacted another change to how alcohol is sold when it allowed to-go alcohol sales from restaurants. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the waiver for to-go alcohol sales in order to help restaurants that could no longer serve dine-in customers. He has said that he will consider continuing the practice after the pandemic is over because of its popularity. However, to-go alcohol sales can potentially lead to drivers violating the open alcohol container laws and a charge of driving while intoxicated if they are not careful.
How Do To-Go Sales Work?
The waiver for to-go alcohol sales allows customers to purchase an alcoholic beverage as a carry-out order as long as:
- They are purchasing the beverage along with food
- The alcohol is in a sealed container while it is being transported
With the new rule, restaurants have been able to sell beer, wine, and kits to make your own mixed drinks at home. Despite the name, to-go alcohol sales do not allow you to take an alcoholic beverage in a to-go cup as you would with a non-alcoholic beverage.
Open Container Violations
Texas’s open container law prohibits you from having an open or unsealed container of alcohol in your vehicle. It does not matter if your vehicle is parked or if the cap is on a previously opened container. Violating the open container law is a Class C misdemeanor, which includes a fine of as much as $500. If a police officer finds an open alcohol container in your vehicle, they may also suspect that you have been driving while intoxicated and ask you to take a sobriety test. If you have purchased a to-go alcohol order, you can avoid an open container violation by:
- Making sure that the restaurant is selling the alcohol in a sealed container
- Not breaking the seal on the container until you get home
- Putting the alcohol in a place in your vehicle that you cannot readily access while driving, such as your trunk or the seat that is furthest back
Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Attorney
An open container violation does not look good on your criminal record and could also lead to DWI charges. A San Antonio DWI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can evaluate your case to determine whether you actually violated the law. Schedule a free consultation by calling 888-726-5625.