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How open container laws can affect drivers who are not drinking

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | DWI |

Texas has stringent open-container laws to regulate the presence of alcoholic beverages in vehicles. These laws can impact you as a driver, even if you have not been drinking or have no intention to.

Understanding the implications of open container laws is important for all motorists.

Legal consequences

An open container, under Texas law, refers to any bottle, can or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage with a broken seal, or a beverage that someone has partially consumed.

An open container in your vehicle can result in various legal consequences such as fines, potential suspension of your driver’s license and a misdemeanor on your record. Of course, there are several reasons why people might have an open container in their vehicle without actually consuming alcohol.

Sometimes, people may unintentionally leave behind open containers from a previous trip, party or event in their vehicle. Similarly, a driver or passenger might be transporting open containers for friends or family who were consuming alcohol but are not present in the vehicle at the time. While the driver may not be drinking, they can still face legal consequences.

Sometimes, people may use open containers to transport nonalcoholic beverages or other items. For example, an open container might contain water, soda or snacks.

Open containers could also be in a vehicle that family members or friends share. One person may have left an open container in the vehicle without the knowledge of others who later drove it. However, these reasons do not necessarily prevent charges.

Passengers and open containers

It is not just the driver who needs to be cautious. Passengers in the vehicle can also face penalties if they have an open container of alcohol within reach, regardless of their sobriety. This means that even if you are sober, having a passenger with an open container could result in issues for both you and the passenger.


While open container laws in Texas are generally strict, there are some exceptions. For instance, a passenger in the living area of an RV or motorhome can possess an open container. Additionally, passengers in hired limousines and buses can have open containers under certain circumstances.

Understanding open container guidelines and the exceptions can help drivers and passengers navigate the laws more effectively.