Deep in the Heart of Texas: Farther Up the Road With an Open Container of Alcohol Can Cause You Heartache
The phone rings, it is three o’clock in the morning and your friend needs your help. After a night out on the Texas town your friend has come to the realization that they are too intoxicated to drive. Satisfied with your friend’s decision of not enlisting in the ranks with the reported 2.1% of Texans who have admitted to driving while having too much to drink, you are only happy to help. Clearly beyond the legal limit of a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and not another soul in sight they surely made the smart decision of contacting you for help but there is one thing that could easily undo this good deed, your friend jumped in your car with an open container of alcohol.
Thankful you were available to help and save your friend from an almost certain driving while under the influence (DWI) charge or worse yet, an accident, not much thought has been given to the open beer as you continue the drive to his house.
As yet another beer can cracks open your attention quickly diverts to the Texas State Police cruiser behind you and in an instant, the lights begin signaling you to pull over. No worries you think as you remember that your passenger tail light has burnt out and you have yet to repair it. Perhaps a warning and perhaps even a bit of authoritative praise for your journey of good will toward you intoxicated friend.
Think again...all but 11 states, with Texas not making the list, have open container laws on the books. As you give the officer a weak smile, your license, registration, and proof of insurance you mention that you were just driving your friend home with the hope that the officer commends your maturity and altruism. Instead, as the officer returns your documents, you are about to learn more about Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49, Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals, Intoxication and Alcohol Beverage Offenses. Your friend takes another sip from the open can…
Wishing that you were in one of the 11 aforementioned states, the officer explains that Texas open container laws make it illegal for anyone who is in a motor vehicle, regardless of who is driving and whether or not the car is in motion, to have an open container of alcohol.
You sit quietly while the officer offers a bit more detail.
In Texas, an open container means a bottle, can or any other container that holds any amount of alcohol and is noted to be open, the seal broken or contents partially removed.
As your friend is now sleeping, the officer also mentions that while you are as straight as an arrow, your friend is not and is currently seated in the passenger seat of your vehicle, with an open container of alcohol.
The officer also reminds you that the vehicle was in motion on a “public highway” which is defined by Texas law as any thoroughfare that is considered a road, street, highway or interstate. Just to be clear, the officer reminds you that even if he spotted your vehicle stationary in a parking lot, this offense is considered a Class C misdemeanor with the possibility of fines of up to $500.
The officer smiles as he hands you the written citation and notice to appear before your friendly judicial magistrate. You too smile, sheepishly as you sign the intent to appear, hand it back to the officer and with a quick glance to your right, you notice your friend is now snoring.
Every two minutes, a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence. Contacting a friend, appointing a designated driver or securing the services of a taxi or independent car service are all wise decisions but if you ignored these alternatives and are now facing a DWI charge, perhaps we can help. San Antonio DWI attorney, Sam H. Lock has spent the past 10 years serving clients throughout Texas with compassion and commitment. Contact our office toll free at 1-888-726-5625 to learn more about our services today.