Can a passenger have an open container in a motor vehicle while it’s being driven?
No. The State of Texas prohibits any passenger from having an open alcoholic container in a passenger area of the vehicle unless the person is a passenger in the living quarters of a motor home, a limousine, a bus, a taxi, or a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for transportation of persons for compensation.
Sec. 49.031. of the Texas Penal Code covers the law around an open alcoholic container in a motor vehicle.
POSSESSION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN MOTOR VEHICLE.
(a) In this section:
(1) “Open container” means a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.
(2) “Passenger area of a motor vehicle” means the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle. The term does not include:
(A) a glove compartment or similar storage container that is locked;
(B) the trunk of a vehicle
(C) the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.
(3) “Public highway” means the entire width between and immediately adjacent to the boundary lines of any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly maintained way if any part is open for public use for the purpose of motor vehicle travel. The term includes the right-of-way of a public highway.
(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.
(c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that at the time of the offense the defendant was a passenger in:
(1) the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxicab, or limousine; or
(2) the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, a motor home, or a recreational vehicle.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(e) A peace officer charging a person with an offense under this section, instead of taking the person before a magistrate, shall issue to the person a written citation and notice to appear that contains the time and place the person must appear before a magistrate, the name and address of the person charged, and the offense charged. If the person makes a written promise to appear before the magistrate by signing in duplicate the citation and notice to appear issued by the officer, the officer shall release the person.
If you’ve been arrested for having an open alcoholic container in a motor vehicle, call us 24/7 to speak with an attorney. Our DWI attorneys can help you understand your rights and aggressively defend you.