If you were issued a written citation and notice to appear for possessing an open container of alcohol in Collin County or the surrounding areas of McKinney, Frisco, Allen, Wylie, or Plano, Texas, then contact an attorney with Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. Both the driver and passenger can be fined up to $500 for having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Even though no arrest was made, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor.
This article also discusses the consequences of possession of an open container while DWI. That offense is a Class B misdemeanor that will result in an arrest and carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 6 days.
The crime of possessing an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle is found in Section 49.031. Section 49.031(b) provides:
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.
The Texas Legislature defined the term "open container" to mean “a bottle, can, or another 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.”
The term "passenger area of a motor vehicle" is defined to mean “the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle. “ The statute specifies that the term does not include any of the following locations:
The term "public highway" is defined to mean “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.”
The statute specifies certain exceptions if the person accused was a passenger in one of the following types of vehicles:
The first Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours in jail. If, however, at the time of the DWI the driver possessed an open container then the offense is subject to an enhanced penalty.
Section 49.40 for Driving While Intoxicated provides in subsection (c) that “[i]f it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person's immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days [in jail].”
Open Container Laws – A chart that summarizes different state statutes on open container, public intoxication and consumption of alcohol in public from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Open Container Laws in the United States – Information from Wikipedia on state laws restricting the possession of open containers in certain public places such as sidewalks, parks and vehicles. Learn more about attempts to restrict public intoxication and drunk driving offenses.
If you were charged with possession of an open container by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office, the McKinney Police Department, Allen Police Department, the Frisco Police Department, the Plano Police Department or a state trooper when driving I-75 or any other highway in the county, then contact an attorney with Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
From a simple charge of “open container” to the more serious charge of open container while DWI, let our attorneys with Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy talk with you about the charge and possible defenses and exceptions that might apply to your case. Call (972) 805-8855 today.