What are the Texas Open Container Laws?

Nearly every Texan has heard of, and knows a bit about, Texas’s “Open Container” laws. Below we will take a look at the Open Container laws and discuss some potential penalties.

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The “Open Container” Law

Section 49.031(b) of the Texas Penal Code codifies the charge of “Possession of Alcoholic Beverages in a Motor Vehicle.” This is Texas’s Open Container law.

The Texas Penal Code tells that a person is guilty of violating the Open Container law when he or she knowingly possesses an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public road.

The statute also tells us that it doesn’t matter if the car is stopped, parked, or in operation.

In lay terms, if you have an open container of alcohol in a car on a Texas road, regardless of whether the car is moving or not, you are likely violating the Open Container law.

What constitutes an “open container?”

49.031(b) says that a person must knowingly possess an “open container.”

49.031(a)(1) tells us that an open container is any bottle, can, or other receptacle that has any alcohol in it.

The statute also tells us that this includes any container that is open, has been opened, has a broken seal, or has had any of the contents partially removed.

What part of the car is considered the “passenger area?”

49.01(a)(2)(A)-(C) tells us that the passenger area of the vehicle includes any area of the car designed for someone to sit in.

It also tells us it does not include a locked glove compartment, the trunk, or the area behind the last seat of the vehicle if the car does not have a trunk.

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Limos, Taxis, Party Bus, RV


49.031(c)(1)-(2) makes it legal for a passenger have an open container of alcohol when he or she is a patron riding in a taxi, bus, or limo.

It is also permissible to have an open alcohol container as a passenger in the living area of an RV or camper.

Fines & Penalties

Section 49.031(d) of the Texas Penal Code makes violating the Open Container law a Class C misdemeanor.

That means a first time offender can be punished by a fine up to $500.