Texas Open Container Law for Passengers

Texas Drivers should be conscious about the Texas Open Container Law before getting behind the wheel.

Open Container Law Explained

Simply put, the law in Texas prohibits a person to have an alcoholic beverage in the car that is opened, has a seal that has been broken, or that the alcohol has been partially consumed or empty.

Open Container Law Punishment

Drivers found with open containers in their cars, will need to speak to an attorney because you can be given a citation which is a Class C misdemeanor, and face a fine of up to $500. Longer jail time can also result if a driver is charged with a DWI, and if an open container is found in the vehicle.

Every day, adults are arrested for suspicion of DUI upon the determination that their blood alcohol level (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08.

Passengers & Open Containers

Furthermore, according to Fort Bend Attorney Daniel Lazarine, there are consequences for passengers in a vehicle that have an open container per to Texas Penal Code 49.031.2. (e) This code prohibits a passenger to possess an open container inside of a car, and that a peace officer can issue a citation with a notice to appear before a magistrate.

Penalties for Passengers

If an officer stops the vehicle you are in and finds an open container, you will face a Class C misdemeanor violation. Section 49.031.2 (b) clearly defines what part of the vehicle violates the Open Container Law, and states that the “Passenger of  a motor vehicle” means the area of a motor vehicle designed for seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle.

Can you have an open container in the trunk?

The trunk, the area behind the last upright seat of a car, and the glove compartment are not considered to be “passenger areas” of a vehicle. The only exception to the Texas Open Container Law in Texas is if a person is consuming alcohol on a bus, limousine, or a taxi.

Keep in mind that it is an offense to possess an open container even if the vehicle you are in is in operation, stopped, or parked on any public road. Underage drivers can receive harsh penalties, as Texas law states that anyone under the age of 21 caught consuming alcohol are subject to a fine up to $500, complete alcohol awareness classes, must complete 8 to 40 hours of community service, and can lose or be denied their driver’s license for 30 to 180 days.

Minors & Open Containers

Minors that have a mark on their criminal record are thereafter faced with the difficulty of being able receive college scholarships, and it becomes very challenging for these individuals to find a job.

Every year, tens of thousands of Texans face jail time and fines to pay due to violating the Texas Open Container Law. Drivers under the influence will be stopped and are subject to a chemical test, since Texas drivers agree to an “implied consent” when a Texas driver’s license is issued.

Refusing to submit to a breath sobriety test will automatically result in your arrest, as the implied consent principle allows the state to test you for alcohol when operating a vehicle.