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Understanding the open container law

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2022 | DWI

If you are on your way to a party, and someone else is driving, you may think that it is ok to bring along a “roadie.” Many people use this term to refer to an alcoholic beverage consumed in a vehicle.

However, Texas has an open container law that forbids drivers and passengers from drinking in a vehicle, and there are consequences associated with violating it.

Definition of open container

According to FindLaw, an open container is any unsealed container that holds alcohol. This includes cans, bottles, flasks, coffee cups, travel cups or other containers. Unopened alcohol, such as an uncorked bottle of wine, is not an open container.

Open container law details

According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, the open container law states that it is illegal for a person to knowingly possess alcohol in an open container in any passenger area of a vehicle on a public highway. This includes when the vehicle is in motion, stopped or parked.

If there is an opened alcoholic beverage in the vehicle, its location must be in the trunk, locked storage container or behind the last seat if there is no trunk.

Exceptions to the law

One exception to the law is that a passenger of a taxi, Uber, bus or other vehicle used for compensated transportation may possess an open container. So may an individual in the living areas of a motorized home.

Penalty for law violation

A person in violation of the open container law faces a Class C misdemeanor. This crime does not require jail time, but it does include a fine of up to $500.