Under Texas law, an open container includes any unsealed bottle, can, flask, or other container used to hold alcohol. As a result, a completely sealed bottle of wine, beer, or liquor would not qualify as an open container.
Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle becomes a crime only when it is present in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. In other words, the container must be visible and accessible from the driver’s seat. It would be illegal, therefore, to have an unsealed bottle of liquor in your cupholder or in the passenger seat. It would not be illegal, though, if the unsealed bottled was in the glove compartment or another locked storage compartment, in the trunk, or in the area behind your seat, if your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk.
These rules regarding open containers apply not only when you are in a moving vehicle, but when you are parked or stopped on or immediately next to a public road. Additionally, these rules apply not only to drivers, but to passengers, as well. Plus, you can be charged with a violation of open container laws even if you are 100% sober.
There are some exceptions to the open container law. For instance, you may be able to legally transport an open container while a passenger in taxis or limos. An exception also exists for transporting open containers in recreational vehicles (RVs) or motorhomes.
Violation of the open container law is a Class C misdemeanor, which means that you are likely to be given a ticket and a fine that is not excess of $500. As long as you are sober at the time of the traffic stop and aren’t committing any other crimes, you are not at risk of a jail sentence.
When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 359-3362 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.