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Open Container

A DWI is an alcohol-related offense taken seriously throughout the state of Texas; however, DWIs are not the only alcohol-related offense which law enforcement officials take seriously. Possession of an open container is a less commonly known alcohol-related offense which can problematic for those unaware of its existence.

Most people are under the false impression that only driving after consuming an illegal amount of alcohol can lead to criminal charges, but in Texas and many other states, the mere possession of alcohol in your vehicle may be enough to penalize you.

Fighting an open container charge when you were unaware that your actions were illegal may prove difficult. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can assist you in fighting these charges, but you must act quickly.


Attorney for Open Container Crimes in Plano, Texas

Thankfully, open container charges are not the most difficult alcohol-related offense to overcome. The criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy possess years of experience defending clients like you against charges such as these.

With our extensive legal knowledge and experience, our legal team is prepared to take on your case and work towards the best possible outcome for your circumstances.
If you or someone you know was recently charged with possession of an open container in Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas, Richardson, or Carrollton, Texas, call today at 469-304-3422. At your free consultation, one of our defense attorneys can discuss the details of your charges, and get started on your defense.

With two convenient Plano locations and an Allen, Texas location, our firm proudly accepts clients in Collin County, and surrounding areas including Grayson County, Fannin County, Dallas County, and Denton County.


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What Constitutes an Open Container under Texas Statute §49.031

Typically, when one thinks of possessing an open container in an automobile, a beer bottle in the front seat comes to mind; however, Texas Code provides a broader definition.

Texas Statute §49.031 states that an individual is in possession of an open container when he or she does possesses an open container of any alcoholic beverage in any open area of an automobile. This container can be a bottle, glass, or any other item which can hold a liquid beverage and has a broken seal with some of the contents missing.

Open areas of an automobile are not limited to the driver’s seat. These areas may also include any unlocked area accessible to the driver or passenger(s). Items stored in locked areas such as glove compartments and trunks are not considered accessible the driver.

Additionally, Texas law does not require an automobile to be in transit in order to find a driver or passenger in possession of an open container. This statute will also apply to individuals in stopped or parked cars.

This statute will not apply to vehicles used solely for the purpose of transporting alcoholic beverages, like delivery trucks, nor for recreational vehicles such as motorhomes.


Penalties for Possession of an Open Container

Possession of an open container is considered a Class C misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $500. However, charges may be enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000 if the defendant has also been convicted of DWI.  


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Additional Resources

Possession of an Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle under §49.031-Visit the Texas Penal Code site of the Texas State Legislature to find out more about possession of an open container and related offenses. This website provides statutory definitions and full-length statutes on alcohol-related offenses. Also, find out more about enhanced penalties.

Community Traffic Safety- Visit the Plano City of Excellence website of the Plano City Government to find out more about traffic violations, and tips for staying safe on Texas roads. This website also provides contact information to report reckless driving. Also, find information on traffic citation fines.


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Find a Lawyer for Possession of an Open Container in Collin County, Texas

If you possessed an open container in your automobile, and do not qualify as one of the statutory exceptions, you need a criminal defense attorney to assist you in beating these charges. If you live in Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Richardson, or Dallas, call The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at 469-304-3422 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.

This firm also represents clients charged with open container possession in Collin County, Grayson County, Fannin County, Denton County, and Dallas County.  

This article was last updated on December 20, 2016.

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