Overstanding Texas Open Container DWI Laws

Did you know that there is an open container law in the state of Texas? The drinking while intoxicated (DWI) laws are strict in Texas. In fact, you might need an Houston DWI lawyer for Open Container cases in Texas if booked with this offense.

The Open Container Law Is Real

You know what they say about ignorance; it is no defense, especially in the eye of the law. My friend, Miller, learned this the hard way. Just the other day he called to tell me he had been booked because he had an open beer can on the passenger seat of his sedan. Being from Connecticut, where the DWI laws are lenient, he was not aware this was an offense.

The funny thing about his case was that the car was parked on the roadside, and it wasn’t even his beer. He’d parked to take a call when a police patrol car pulled over and asked for his license and registration. That’s when the officer noticed the beer can.

The purpose of this post is to get you informed, so you do not unknowingly violate the open container law like my friend.

What does the Open Container Law in Texas state?

The open container law is in Section 49.031 (b) of the Texas Penal Code of possession of alcoholic beverages in a car. It says that an individual is violating the law if they knowingly possess an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle on a roadway.

The law further explains that it does not matter whether the vehicle is moving or not. According to the law, the passenger area is the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, and the back seat. The law excludes the glove compartment and the trunk.

An open container is any can bottle or any other liquid holding device that is unsealed. The type of alcohol and the amount are irrelevant. In addition, it does not matter if you’re drinking it or not.

The law only applies if the car is on a public roadway and the area immediately adjacent to the boundary lines of the roadway. Public roadways are roads publicly maintained and include streets, interstate roads, and highways.

Exceptions to the Open Container Law

The open container law does not apply to passengers in vehicles used to transport individuals for a fee. Therefore, if you are a passenger in a bus, taxi, or limo, you can lawfully possess an open alcoholic beverage container. The law also exempts the living area of a recreational vehicle (RV), self-contained camper, or motorhome.

The Penalty for Open Container Violation

When my friend was caught violating the open container law, he received a written citation. He was also given a notice to appear in court, which he had to sign to be released.

In Texas, an open container violation is a Class C misdemeanor, whose maximum fine is $500. You might need a lawyer for an open container violation.

An open container violation is typically a simple case that does not require a lawyer. You just show up in court and pay the fine. Still, you have a right to remain silent until you have legal representation. If you do not show up in court, the judge or magistrate will issue a warrant for arrest.

In the case of a DWI charge with an allegation of the open container violation, there is a jail term, and the fines are much higher. The penalties in such cases are fines of up to $2,000 and a minimum of 6 days in jail. Because you are looking at possible jail time, it is in your best interest to hire Open Container Violation, DWI, Texas, and Lawyer.


It is better to be safe than sorry, right? From the experience of my friend and after reading the law, I would recommend putting any container holding alcohol, sealed or unsealed, in the trunk or glove compartment.

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