Open container laws have got you thinking. You know you can’t drink and drive, but could you drink while another person drives? Suppose you finished off a beer while your friend drove you home. Is that legal? Or would you get in trouble?
If you want to know if passengers can drink alcohol in the car, read on.
The only thing that matters in the eyes of the law is that a bottle of alcohol was open.
The Open Container Law
Before we get into if passengers can drink in cars, let’s first go over a super important law: the open container law.
This law states that there can’t be any open containers of alcohol in a car. It does not matter what type of alcohol is open. It also doesn’t matter if your car was moving, parked, or who was drinking the opened alcohol, or how much they drank. The only thing that matters in the eyes of the law is that a bottle of alcohol was open.
Now, there are a few exceptions to this strict rule. If you’re the passenger of a limousine, bus, taxi, or mobile home with living quarters, you are allowed to drink alcohol.
“What if it’s just me and a friend?” Suppose you picked up your friend for a BBQ at Bear Creek Park. You have supplies ready to go in the back seat. However, during the drive there, your friend decides to crack one open.
“What?” they say. “It’s just one beer. What could happen?” A lot actually. You could face a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted you would have to pay a fine of no more than $500.
Where You Drink Matters
Believe it or not, where you drink matters. Currently, there are 43 states that have open container laws. Forty of those states conform to federal standards of the open container law as outlined by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
So, let’s say you’re vacationing in New Orleans. You’re in the French Quarter and your friends want to get frozen cocktails from a drive-through vendor while you drive. You’re hesitant at first, but then you hear some good news. Yes, your friends can drink from an open container while you drive in New Orleans. Just as long as the designated driver (in this case, you) doesn’t drink themselves.
There are also seven states total that don’t have any open container laws. They include:
- West Virginia
- Connecticut. However, some parts of each state may have laws prohibiting open alcohol containers. So if you’re planning a little vacay in any of these states, do a little research before you go to avoid trouble.
Texas has an open container law, so if you’re drinking in Texas, don’t drink in a car.
What If I’m in Texas?
Unfortunately, Texas does have an open container law in place. Unless you’re the passenger of a limo, taxi, or mobile home with a living area, you can’t drink while in the passenger seat. So if you’re planning to have a fun night out, don’t drink in the car. Even if it’s an Uber or Lyft, don’t chance it. Uber and Lyft might seem like a taxi, but it’s better to play it safe and not drink.
Hire DWI Lawyer David Hunter Today!
If you want to know more about Texas open container laws and think you need a DWI lawyer, David Hunter can help. David’s extensive experience as a trial lawyer and Texas Judge have given him a unique perspective on the Texas criminal justice system that allows him to provide a top-notch defense to each and every client. He handles DWI cases regularly and knows exactly what to do so you’ll spend less time in court and jail.
Call (281) 417-3117 or click below to schedule a free consultation and see how David Hunter could help you with your case today!