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What Are the Rules Regarding Open Containers in Texas?

With restaurants and bars being allowed to provide alcohol mixed drinks, beer, and wine to-go, it begs the question of what are the rules regarding open containers in Texas.

Texas still has one of the strictest rules governing open containers. Criminal Defense Attorney Steve Toland discusses four things you should remember regarding open containers in Texas.

1.What is an open container? 

It’s any receptacle that holds alcohol in it that’s open as or it’s had the seal broken off. An open container is also any amount that’s holding a beverage that’s been partially removed. So if you had like half of the contents of the bottle of wine removed, and then the cork stuck back, if an officer were to pull you over, you couldn’t then claim it’s not an open container.

2. It governs the whole passenger area of your vehicle. 

Many times, people think that if they’re over 21, and they’re in the backseat, they’re allowed to have an open container of alcohol. That is not true. It’s not correct. You’re still liable under class C’s misdemeanor laws in Texas, which is a non-jailable offense punishable up to $500. Therefore, anyone in the front or backseat is a restricted area for an open container.

3. It governs whether your car is stopped, parked, or operating on. 

All it matters is that you’re inside the car.

4. It governs when you are on a public roadway. 

That’s any area of ingress and egress a road, if you will, that’s publicly maintained.

However, there are two defenses or exceptions to the rules above. Number one, if the vehicle is for hire. For example, if you are over 21 and you’re renting a limousine or a party bus, you can have an open container. The other exception is recreational or camping vehicles—the passenger area restrictions are broader in that instance. The front area with the driver and the passenger in the front are restricted areas, but everything behind that in a recreational or camping vehicle is an exception to the general rule.

If you have any questions about alcohol-related offenses or any criminal liability issues, please contact Peek & Toland Law Firm at 512-474-4445 or visit our website www.peekandtoland.com.

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