Open Container Law - Texas Penal Code Section 49.031

§ 49.031. Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle.

(a) In this section:

  (1) "Open container" means a bottle, can, or other 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.

   (2) "Passenger area of a motor vehicle" means the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle. The term does not include:

       (A) a glove compartment or similar storage container that is locked;

       (B) the trunk of a vehicle; or

       (C) the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.

  (3) "Public highway" means 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.

(b) 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.

(c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that at the time of the offense the defendant was a passenger in:

   (1) the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxicab, or limousine; or

   (2) the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, a motor home, or a recreational vehicle.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(e) A peace officer charging a person with an offense under this section, instead of taking the person before a magistrate, shall issue to the person a written citation and notice to appear that contains the time and place the person must appear before a magistrate, the name and address of the person charged, and the offense charged. If the person makes a written promise to appear before the magistrate by signing in duplicate the citation and notice to appear issued by the officer, the officer shall release the person.

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candace fiorentino - February 10, 2007 5:19 PM

can this law also be used as the same if you are carrying unopened bottles or cans of alcohol in the front seat for tranport?

Jamie - February 11, 2007 12:10 PM

Candace:

It only applies to bottles or cans that have never been opened. Broken seals, however, are included.

M. Paul Vertz - September 19, 2007 10:54 PM

If there's more than one person in a vehicle, and only one has an open container (only one is drinking), are the other people in the vehicle subject to being ticketed and appearing before a magistrate? Is the designated driver at risk if the others in the vehicle have open containers (are drinking)? If the vehicle is a business vehicle, is the owner liable even if he's not present?

Thank you.

Walt - October 12, 2007 10:17 PM

apparently this does not apply to individuals "not" in a vehicle. Is there a law or ordinance that involves an individual in a public place with an open container?

Kim - November 4, 2007 9:28 PM

if i was pulled over and there was an open beer i did not know about and the officer wrote me an open container ticket that states to appear before nov 23 before JP am I guilty

Ellen - January 23, 2008 2:21 PM

I'm interested in seeing what the answer is to M. Paul Vertz's post of 9/19/07. I am in the same situation now- I was the driver (not drinking) with a back seat passenger who had an open container (but not intoxicated). What is the point of being a designated driver? Am I responsible for controlling the back seat passenger who is out of view and out of my control?

Ellen - January 23, 2008 2:21 PM

I'm interested in seeing what the answer is to M. Paul Vertz's post of 9/19/07. I am in the same situation now- I was the driver (not drinking) with a back seat passenger who had an open container (but not intoxicated). What is the point of being a designated driver? Am I responsible for controlling the back seat passenger who is out of view and out of my control?

Chris - March 27, 2008 11:13 AM

I recieved a ticket for open contain as a passenger in a vehicle because an officer found two beer cans under the seat. Even though I was unaware of the containers I still recieved a citiation and was found guilty. The law is so broad when it comes to open container unfortunatly is seems you are still guilty is if innocent....

eric - July 20, 2008 8:30 PM

I work in a restaurant where a 'knowledgeble' guest said that it was not considered an open container on a bottle of wine if the cork was reinserted. Doesn't sound accurate. What is the law?

Carolyn - August 5, 2008 10:15 AM

If there is an open container, do all the occupants of the vehicle get a ticket? Or only the person closest to the open container?

JULIE WILKERSON - October 21, 2008 3:38 PM

My husband and I recently moved to Houston from New Orleans. I wanted to inquire as to the open container law or law permitting drive thru liquor sales and what is the proper channels to go if possibly wanting to open a daiquiri shop

stephanie lorene - November 1, 2008 5:01 AM

I recentlx had to take the blame for an open container that belonged to the person in the front seat because nobody would claim it and the officer threatened to take us all to jail do u think i can get out of paying for it whenever i go to court ?

Angela - December 16, 2008 11:08 PM

Is this a "class c misdemeanor traffic violation"? Do I have to report this when renewing my nursing license?

cwxwwwxdfvwwxwx - December 24, 2008 2:32 PM

well, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how's life? hope it's introduce branch ;)

Guadalupe M. Hancock - February 5, 2009 10:53 AM

I was cited for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle (police car) at an intersection where a corner house has obstructive foliage which blocked my view into on coming main road. I stopped but could not see the officer on the main as I was leaving my neighborhood. The emergency vehicle was not on an emergency call - NO flashing lights nor siren. He turned around and I saw him two blocks into the main and immediately pulled over. He cited a traffic citation and thus a general citation for an open container - and having given me a sobriety field test, I passed - he saw an open container but excused it; however, he was bound to impound my car and left me walking on foot along with a passenger that was with me... I will take a picture of the obstuction at the corner house which is along side a stop sign. Am I correct in presenting this photo to the judge inwhich is comparative to the site of the citation?

mack - March 29, 2009 1:10 PM

A friend of mine just called me and relayed to me the events of the last 2 days, he had dropped his kids off in mansfield tx and then stopped at the store and purchased a 6 pack upon getting back on the road heading home he opened one of the beers, he did not see the patrol officer that saw him, he was pulled over and told that since he had an open container he had to go to jail. His car was towed and impounded and he was escorted to the local jail, where he stayed from Friday night, until sunday at noon. They then told him that if he was caught again with an open container that he would have double the fine. He was fined 400.00 along with spending 3 days in jail. then take in the fact that he owed for the towing and impounding of his vehicle. This doesnt sound fair or just to me, is there anything he can do??

jmay - March 29, 2009 8:44 PM

What if you recieve an open container ticket after walking out of a fraternity house on 26th street. No vehicle, just walking out with a beer in hand?

Brittany - April 30, 2009 9:21 AM

I received an open container ticket for riding in the bed of a truck along the beach..but i thought that is not considered open container if it is in the trunk or bed of a pickup truck? Can i fight this?

Steve - May 7, 2009 11:18 PM

I recieved a ticket 49.031 while parked in a convience store parking lot.Is that privite property.Can I beat this ticket?

michael winter - June 8, 2009 1:23 PM

What is the fine for open container ticket for a passenger?

Jules - July 23, 2009 10:54 AM

I was stopped recently for supposedly doing 73 in a 65. My cruise was set to 67. I had the roof down and was cruising to New Orleans for a break. This was at 2.00am. State Trooper decided to pull me over and stated that he clocked me doing 73. I told him I couldn't have been because my cruise was set at 67. He said "oh". Of course he couldn't prove to me that I was doing 73. He then looked inside the vehicle and he saw an open beer bottle. I did not know that it was in the car. Friends of mine the night before left it on the floor and it had rolled forward. He gave me a cite. $300. So I pleaded not guilty and they sent me a letter stating that I could do 90 days deferred and a $150 fine. I still want to fight it. Or, should I pay it? What are my chances of getting it dismissed?

Kay - September 25, 2009 9:26 AM

Curious to know if a dacquiri hot sealed (like by a seal o matic) in a plastic bag would be condsidered an open container by the open container law penal code 49.031?

Eric - October 18, 2009 5:14 PM

Does the open container law include people walking down the street with an open alcoholic beverage?

Vic - June 12, 2010 8:53 PM

Is it against the law for a 21 year old and an 18 year old to have an unopened case of beer in their vehicle?

Just Saying - July 21, 2010 2:54 PM

You guys and Gals sound like a bunch of D-bag bottom feeders. Is it really that big of a deal not to drink and drive. WTF...........

Laura - August 8, 2010 10:38 AM

On July 23 I was a passenger in a vehicle and we were pulled over for doing 60mph in a 50mph and also a construction zone. I, being the passenger had received a ticked and/or Violation 1. OPEN CONTAINER IN A MOTOR VEHICLE-PASSENGER(#) 16 oz miller lite can. I had mentioned to the officer that it was unopened as the screw cap was screwed on. I am curious as to the amount of the ticket and also if I can do deffered? Am I guilty really?

Laura - August 8, 2010 10:38 AM

On July 23 I was a passenger in a vehicle and we were pulled over for doing 60mph in a 50mph and also a construction zone. I, being the passenger had received a ticked and/or Violation 1. OPEN CONTAINER IN A MOTOR VEHICLE-PASSENGER(#) 16 oz miller lite can. I had mentioned to the officer that it was unopened as the screw cap was screwed on. I am curious as to the amount of the ticket and also if I can do deffered? Am I guilty really?

Jose F Alvarez - August 17, 2010 1:29 PM

Hi i got a ticket for open container in Kaufman co. Tx. whats the right procedure to handle this. do i appear before the date & declare my self guilty? is there any way to take a course or else so it wont be on my record? is my first time for this offense i had taken diffensive driv cours beffore plese help

Paul - August 19, 2010 12:27 PM

I recently got a ticket for an open container in Austin, Tx for carrying a beer on 5th street. I looked up the law, and since there was no vehicle involved my lawyer friend suggested I fight it. After I enter a plea for not guilty they changed my citation to Possession/Selling Alcohol in a restricted area... My lawyer got them to change the citation back to Open Container, because it is against the law to change the citation after a plea has been entered.... well now I am waiting to see if the judge will dismiss the charge. I hate cops.

BILLY W. WALLACE - November 19, 2010 10:51 AM

WHAT IS THE LAW AS REGARDS, DRIVING THRU A MARGARITA THROUGH THE WALL TYPE PLACE, WHO SERVES THROUGH THE WINDOW WITH A CUP AND STRAW?

my oh-so-smart son - May 15, 2011 12:31 PM

An individual adjudged guilty of a Class C misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.

Autumn - June 2, 2011 6:41 PM

It is my understanding that drive thru margarita shops do not place the straw in the cup for you, therefor drinking it and driving would be illegal if you were drinking it. Don't they have that seal on the lid now in some places like at the bubble tea shops? I also learned that a 12 pak that is missing a few is an open container. A single beer bottle (unopened) is an open container, because it is out of its original packaging. They do however sell tall cans individually, and often have a paper bag on them. See what I mean, "OPEN CONTAINER" as long as you bought it that way and didnt open any of the package, you should be good. If you opened the box, put it in the trunk!

Jonny - November 18, 2011 3:12 PM

I am 19 and I recieved an open container ticket. This is my first offence and I would like to know if there is any way to get this off my record?

Jonny - November 18, 2011 3:12 PM

I am 19 and I recieved an open container ticket. This is my first offence and I would like to know if there is any way to get this off my record?

Jonny - November 18, 2011 3:13 PM

I am 19 and I recieved an open container ticket. This is my first offence and I would like to know if there is any way to get this off my record?

mel - February 25, 2012 12:50 PM

I u are riding in a car and u have four beer cans with u ,is that an open container?

C. King - March 4, 2012 1:13 AM

I was just pulled over for speeding in tomball, texas. The officer noticed a cup in my truck and asked what was inside. I told him Coke and smelled it and insisted there was alcohol in the cup. I assured him there was none but being intimidated by the possibility of going to jail while they despute my story I admitted to having a "shot and a half" in the cup about 3 hours earlier and prior to refilling it with only Coke. He and then another officer gave me a field sobriety test. They didnt test past the pen test as it was clear that I was stone cold sober. They did not test the drink or ask for a breathalizer. I think I should fight this and dont think my admittance is solid evidence against me as it was coaxed with intimidation. What should I do and are there any lawyers in my area that you could recommend to resolve this issue?

Tami - March 19, 2012 9:48 AM

Got a citation for open container, never knew it was in car, and fined $540

Tami - March 19, 2012 9:49 AM

Got a citation for open container, never knew it was in car, and fined $540

james - April 12, 2012 3:26 PM

if the person is asleep in the car and the cop wakes her up and is made to sign a tickets for the open container that she was unaware of being that she was asleep. should this be fought?

carl - May 20, 2012 12:28 PM

I took a friend to pick up the keys to his boss's truck and stopped by the store on the way home and got a 24oz beer. We arrived at the truck which was on private property, opened the beer and started to get the truck ready for transport. I sat my beer in the car while doing this, and a few minutes 3 cops arrive, search only me and give me a ticket for open container. Can I fight this?

HOWARD - October 6, 2012 7:03 AM

DOES NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER FALL UNDER THIS LAW?

wendy - November 5, 2012 3:38 PM

The officer walked up to my sons Vehicle at a gas station near campus and proceeded to look in the car. He wrote an open container ticket for my son (21) for or he discovered an empty open beer in the back drink holder that my son was not aware of. I see in Section 2 of the penial code.. states that the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk, should not apply. Also the open containor is far out of reach from the dirver and the officer acknowledged that my son was a designated driver that night but still wrote up an citiation. he set for a Docket call and jury selection....Is this legal?

Rick - May 26, 2013 12:29 PM

open container...was parked to text...not my container..I simply forgot it was there...what is the fine...anyone know?
thanks

Rick - May 26, 2013 12:38 PM

Is the fine really $540..in Texas Tami...open container. ..

tommy - January 19, 2014 11:26 PM

Taken from experience. If you have been cited no matter what the situation of who is to blame. For the open container. Your best bet is to plead guilty and get it over with. Otherwise between extra court costs and simply pissing off the judge for wasting his time it will be a lot more costly, time, and financialy wise.

Allen - April 8, 2014 10:17 AM

I recived a ticket for open container. by paying for the ticket is it admitance of guilt? Being a Class C mistdemeanor will I need to report it on relicencing Nursing and job interviews. How do I get this exsponged?

Allen - April 8, 2014 10:18 AM

I recived a ticket for open container. by paying for the ticket is it admitance of guilt? Being a Class C mistdemeanor will I need to report it on relicencing Nursing and job interviews. How do I get this exsponged?

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