What Are the Penalties for an Open Container in a Vehicle in Texas?
You are heading out for the night and one of the passengers in your car decides to crack open a beer or take a quick swig from a bottle of liquor. What is the risk to you, even if you have not been drinking? Under Texas law, the driver of a vehicle could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if there is an open container of alcohol in your car, even if you have not been drinking. When an open container is combined with a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge, the penalties can be even steeper.
Open Container Violations in Texas
To avoid charges, there cannot be an open container of alcohol within the passenger area of the vehicle. Open contains means that the bottle or can that the alcoholic beverage is in has been opened, has a broken seal, or has contents that have been partially removed. The vehicle does not even need to be moving for you to be charged. If you do have to transport alcohol that has already been opened, it can legally be stored in a locked glove compartment, your trunk, or in the area behind the last row of seats if your car does not have a trunk. There are a few exceptions to the rule. Alcohol can be consumed in vehicles such as a bus, a taxi, or a limousine. They can also be enjoyed in the living quarters of a motor home or recreational vehicle.
For a police officer to lawfully stop your vehicle, they must have reasonable suspicion that you have broken the law or are a danger to yourself or others. The subsequent search must also be conducted lawfully. If you are caught with an open container, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $500. If you are already being charged with a DWI, an open container gives the prosecution strong evidence that you had been drinking while or prior to driving. Your potential jail time also increases from 72 hours to six days.
Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Attorney
At the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, we know how to defend against open container charges, DWI, and other violations. We will review the details of your case, determine if you actually broke the law, and contest the charges if the officer conducted an illegal search or traffic stop. Contact our San Antonio DWI defense lawyer or call 210-226-0965 for your free consultation.