Texas Open Container Laws
In Texas, an open container is anything containing any amount of alcohol that is not sealed. This includes capped, but previously opened bottles, cans, flasks, thermoses, and Yeti cups.
For example, a half-consumed bottle of wine, or an open beer is an open container. A fully sealed bottle, on the other hand, is not. Whether or not a seal is broken is a factual question that can be determined at the trial court level if necessary.
- Can you drink beer and drive in Texas?It is legal to drink and then drive in Texas. However, it is illegal to drink while driving in Texas. Learn more.
- Open container if parked?Texas law says you do not have to be in motion to be cited for an Open Container violation. If you’re on a public road, street, highway, interstate or other publicly maintained thoroughfare, you can be charged. This can apply to tailgating on a public street, though some campuses and sports facilities make exceptions.
WHAT IS THE TEXAS OPEN CONTAINER LAW?
An Open Container violation is described in Section 49.031 of the Texas Penal Code:
(b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. Possession by a person of one or more open containers in a single criminal episode is a single offense.
CAN A PASSENGER DRINK ALCOHOL IN A VEHICLE?
No. In Texas, open containers are prohibited in any seating area of a vehicle, including the driver’s side, passenger side or backseat. It’s illegal to knowingly possess an Open Container of alcohol in a vehicle on a public highway. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is stopped or parked.
- Are there passenger exceptions for open containers in Texas?There are some passenger exceptions to Open Container laws. In Texas, passengers may have an open container in buses, taxis, limousines, and motorhomes.
- Are flasks considered Open Containers?Flasks are considered Open Containers in Texas. A passenger drinking from a flask may be cited for Open Container. A solo driver found with a flask accessible in the vehicle may also be charged.
EXCEPTIONS TO OPEN CONTAINER LAWS
In Texas, there are limited circumstances where alcohol may legally be consumed in a vehicle.
- Can you drink in an Uber in Texas?It is legal to drink in an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or other motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation.
- Can you have unopened alcohol in your car in Texas?It is legal to transport unopened alcohol in Texas. The container must be completely sealed. Resealing a previously opened container, or recorking a bottle of wine is not sufficient, and violative of the Texas Open Container law.
- Is an empty can or bottle considered an Open Container?An empty beer can or bottle that previously contained alcohol is not considered an Open Container. However, if there is a small amount that could still be consumed, especially in a wine or liquor bottle, this could be considered violative of the Texas Open Container law by law enforcement.
CAN I DRIVE WITH A PREVIOUSLY OPENED BOTTLE?
It is legal to transport a previously opened bottle of alcohol. However, Texas law requires the open container to be secured in the trunk of the vehicle or a locked glove box compartment.
- Can you have an open container in the trunk in Texas?It is legal to transport an Open Container in the trunk of a vehicle in Texas.
- What is the Texas “No Trunk” exception?If your vehicle does not have a trunk, an open container may be stored behind the last upright seat. This exception allows Jeep, Smart Car, and other vehicle owners to safely and legally transport alcohol throughout Texas.
CAN I BE CHARGED FOR AN OPEN CONTAINER IF I WAS PARKED?
Yes. You don’t have to be in motion. If you’re on a public road, street, highway, interstate or other publicly maintained thoroughfare, you can be charged. This could apply to tailgating on a public street. Though some campuses and sports facilities make special event exceptions.
- Is it legal to drink in a park in Texas?Pursuant to Texas State Park Regulations 59.134. It is against park rules to drink or display an alcoholic beverage in a public place at any time. All outdoor areas are public in Texas State Parks.
- Can you walk with an Open Container in Texas?It is legal to drink in public in Texas. There is no statewide law prohibiting public consumption of alcoholic beverages. However, many local jurisdictions have laws prohibiting or curtailing public consumption of alcohol.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR OPEN CONTAINER IN TEXAS?
Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 under Texas law. A conviction for Open Container is a permanent criminal conviction in Texas that remains on a person’s record forever.
- Can you go to jail for Open Container in Texas?Open Container in a Motor Vehicle is one of the few offenses in Texas you cannot be arrested for.
- What are the consequences for Open Container in Texas?Class C Misdemeanors are not harmless. A Misdemeanor conviction can negatively impact college admissions and financial aid for students. It can also affect employment opportunities, professional licenses, and security clearances. A conviction for violating the Texas Open Container law can also lead to higher insurance costs.
- What happens if you get an Open Container ticket?If you have been cited for Open Container in Texas, it’s critical to do everything possible to obtain a dismissal, and remove the charge from your record the legal process known as expunction. Learn more.
- How do you get a Texas Open Container ticket dismissed?You can’t win if you don’t fight. Open Container convictions can be avoided. There are multiple ways an experienced defense attorney can obtain a dismissal for a person charged with Open Container in Texas.
TEXAS LIQUOR LAWS
Texas has strict liquor laws associated with the sale, purchase, and possession of alcohol. While open containers in vehicles are illegal for everyone, Texas liquor laws vary depending on a person’s age.
- What is the legal drinking age in Texas?A person must be 21 years old to purchase and consume alcohol in Texas.
- Drinking age in TexasA person must be 21 years old to drink in Texas, as outlined in Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code 106:
Sec. 106.04. CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR. (a) A minor commits an offense if he consumes an alcoholic beverage. (b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the alcoholic beverage was consumed in the visible presence of the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse.
However, as noted in TABC Sec. 106.04(b), a minor may legally possess and consume alcohol in the visible presence of a parent or spouse.
TREY PORTER NAMED BEST LAWYER IN CRIMINAL DEFENSE
Trey Porter is a dynamic advocate, nationally recognized for his work in Criminal Defense. He has been voted by his peers as a best lawyer in the field of Criminal and DWI Defense every year since 2015. Recognized by SuperLawyers, Mr. Porter has also been distinguished as a Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Porter holds a Superb rating from AVVO, where attorneys are rated based on skillful litigation, client satisfaction, peer endorsements, and positive results. Learn more.
Glowing Client Reviews
Trey is the man! I hired him because I had overheard a county court judge mentioning how awesome of an attorney he is, so if an endorsement from a judge won’t convince you then I’m not sure what will. I sure do hope I never find myself in a pickle ever again but if I do, I would hire Trey in a heartbeat. He’s honest, transparent, doesn’t beat around the bush, and will work tirelessly so that your clean record stays clean and unblemished. 5 stars, highly recommend!
I recently hired Trey Porter Law to help our teenage daughter with a drug charge. In the state of Texas she was being charged as an adult which carried a much stiffer penalty. Trey is very responsive, helpful, knowledgeable and is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone, text or email. He was able to negotiate on her behalf so it was a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend Trey Porter Law.
Trey really helped me out. He was straight forward and professional, and really helped me in my case. I thought i was going to lose my job, but trey did everything in his power to help me keep my way of life, and still keeps up with me any details on my case.
I really appreciated all he did for me.
Trey is a phenomenal attorney that gets the job done right! He is dedicated to help his clients.
He made himself available and answered all my concerns immediately! I had faith in him and he continued to prove his expertise by helping me. I highly recommend Trey Porter!!
Trey Porter fought for me! I am a nurse and thought my career was over.
Very thankful I got Trey Porter involved. He responds to messages regularly and was very thorough.
He saved my career. Forever grateful!
Mr Porter is the real deal. You get what you pay for these days. I know that from my personal business dealings. Attorney Trey Porter was no different.
He was prompt, professional and poised. I was charged with DWI, and Mr Porter got the charge dismissed. I could not be more pleased or thankful. If you get a DWI, hire the best — hire Trey Porter.
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
Contact Trey Porter Today
Request a free consultation
The stakes are high. Criminal charges can have devastating, lifelong consequences. During the free, confidential consultation, Mr. Porter will answer questions surrounding your legal matter, and discuss and identify potential defenses.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the State is working on your conviction. It’s time to start building your defense.