Can I be Arrested for Having an Open Container of Alcohol in My Vehicle?

March 24th, 2021 by Tad Nelson in DWI

While just being cited for having an open container of alcohol in one’s vehicle doesn’t usually lead to an arrest, it is possible for those who find themselves in this position to also be charged with other criminal offenses, such as DWI. In these cases, drivers could be placed under arrest and booked, with both charges levied against them. 

Receiving a citation for having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle is not as serious as being convicted of a DWI. This does not mean, however, that these kinds of accusations should be taken lightly, as a citation for this kind of offense can still come with severe penalties and could even result in an arrest. Mounting a strong defense is critical for those who are facing this kind of alcohol-related charge. If you were recently cited for an open container violation, you should reach out to an experienced Houston open container violation lawyer who can help you. 

What is an Open Container Violation?

Texas’s open container law bars motorists from having any open containers of alcohol in their vehicles while on a public road, whether the car is being driven, is stopped, or is parked. A person cannot, however, be charged with this offense if the alcoholic beverage is found in a locked glove compartment, the trunk, or if the vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, in the area behind the last upright seat. An open container can include everything from a bottle or can to a flask or any receptacle that contains alcohol and has been opened, has a broken seal, or has had some of its contents removed. 

Arrest for an Open Container Violation

Generally, those who are pulled over for and accused of having an open container of alcohol in their vehicle will not usually be arrested if this is the only offense with which they are being charged. Instead, drivers who find themselves in this situation will usually be given a written citation and a notice to appear before a judge. As long as the driver signs the notice (thereby promising to appear in court at a later date), he or she will be released. 

It is not uncommon, however, for those who are accused of possessing an open container of alcohol in violation of Texas law, to also face allegations of driving while intoxicated. In these instances, unlike the former scenario, a driver could end up formally arrested and booked. In fact, having an open container in one’s vehicle can significantly enhance the penalties for a DWI conviction. For instance, the minimum jail sentence for a first DWI is usually three days. A first DWI conviction involving possession of an open container, on the other hand, requires a stay of at least six days in jail. 

Set Up a Consultation Today

For help defending yourself against an open container violation in Texas, please call 281-280-0100 and speak with one of the dedicated Houston open container violation lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today.

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