Many people in Texas discover that they broke the law by mistake or because they had common misconceptions about driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Of course, things you do not have an idea of can lead to costly charges and can become obstacles on your way to an education, a job, and more. This is why Texans need to know about the open container laws. A DWI defense lawyer can tell you more.
Understanding What the Open Container Law in Texas Means
It is important to know what the open container law means so as to understand the concept properly. An open container refers to any container that contains alcohol of any quantity which has been opened, has its seal broken, or has had some of its content removed.
Once the container has been broken, opened, or partially emptied, it counts as an open container, but it does not count as an open container if it is still unopened.
Before an open container can be considered a crime, it must have met a number of other criteria. If the open container has been placed in a place where passengers can sit in the vehicle, then the driver might be in a bit of trouble.
For a charge to be made, in most cases, the open container must be easily accessible from the driver’s seat (for example, in the cup holder, front passenger seat, rear seat, etc.). If the open container is in an enclosed space of the car or in the trunk of the car, it is not considered to be in the passenger area.
Are Passengers Also Bound by the Open Container Law?
If the open container is in the passenger area, both passenger(s) and the driver of the vehicle can be charged with possession of an open container, even if they are not intoxicated.
Where Can I Legally Keep Alcohol in the Car?
Although an open container is generally illegal anywhere in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, if the open alcohol is kept in any of these places, they are considered legal:
- Closed storage compartment, like the glove compartment area
- If there is no trunk, the area behind the last right seat of the car
Exceptions to Texas Law
The Texas open container law has some exceptions. For example, if you are a passenger in commercial transportation, you can claim to be an exemption to the open container law.
Also, if you own an enclosed trailer, you can find other exemptions from Texas open container laws. Remember that all open container crimes can be different and if you allegedly commit another crime in the process, the situation can change dramatically.
What Are the Penalties?
In Texas, committing an open container crime is a Class C misdemeanor. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $500. However, if you are also charged with DWI, your violation can be commuted to a Class B misdemeanor, which might result in jail time, fines, or loss of your license or insurance.
Have You Been Charged Unfairly? Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Contact The Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy today! Call us at 817-605-1010 or fill out the form below. If anyone around you thinks they are being unfairly charged for open container or other related cases in Texas, make sure they do not delegate to a second-class defense. You need a DWI lawyer in Texas who puts you first.