Texas Open Container Laws to Know for a Super Bowl Tailgate Party

February 6, 2017

Did you attend Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium, tailgate in a nearby parking lot, or just had a house party with friends and get slammed with an open container violation on the way home? After any major sporting event, police assume that people are going to be driving with open containers somewhere in their vehicle, especially after a big tailgating party. No matter how common open container arrests or citations may be, they are not indefensible and irrefutable. With the right approach and information, you may be able to contend the charges, which will be absolutely crucial if you also got a DWI or out-of-state DWI after the Super Bowl.

Texas Open Container Law FAQ

Understanding your rights is the first step in protecting them. Consider this brief list of frequently asked questions about Texas’s open container laws for some insight into your charges or citations.

  1. What does Texas consider to be an “open container” of alcohol?
    In Texas, an open container is essentially as simple as it sounds. Any can, bottle, jug, bag, or any other container that is designed to hold liquid can be considered a container. It will be considered open if it is missing its original packaging, has been opened or is currently open, or has some of its contents missing, even if it is not clear how the contents were drained. You do not need to have any measurable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level when pulled over to get hit with open container charges.
  2. Is there anywhere an open container can legally be in your vehicle in Texas?
    For the most part, an open container of any sort of alcohol can only be transported in a separate trunk in your vehicle. If there is no trunk, it can be stored in behind the last row of seats in the vehicle, or within a locking glove compartment or similar storage space. Anywhere else within the vehicle is constitutes an open container violation. Police may also charge you for an open container violation if it is within arm’s reach of you, regardless of where it is. For example: If you drive a small SmartCar and have a half-empty bottle of wine in the back, you could be charged with an open container violation since the trunk space is only a foot away from your seat.
  3. Can I get an open container or DWI charge in Texas if my car wasn’t even moving?

    Texas law does
    not require your vehicle to be in motion for you to get charged for an open container violation; you can be parked in a parking lot or even your home’s own driveway and still break the law. This is where Super Bowl tailgaters can get slammed with heavy charges, as hosting a drinking event out of the back of a vehicle is technically violating open container laws.
  4. I pulled over after drinking at the Super Bowl to sleep off my intoxication but still got charges – is this allowed?
    Open container violations and DWI charges in Texas can be applied to any situation in which you were near or inside your vehicle, regardless of your own consciousness. In straightforward terms, if you were too drunk to drive home safely after the Super Bowl and decided to try to sleep in your car until the next morning when you are sober, the police could still hit you with a DWI, as they could reasonably believe that you had just been driving before the officer found you sleeping.
  5. Does an open container charge bring steep consequences when combined with a DWI in Texas?

    An open container violation is considered a class C misdemeanor in Texas.
    This can be escalated to a class B misdemeanor with higher penalties if it is charged in conjunction with a DWI, either in-state or out-of-state.
    You could serve a longer jail sentence, lose your insurance coverage, and have your vehicle impounded as a result.

Fighting for Your Rights in Texas

Were you arrested after attending the Super Bowl for having an open alcohol container in your vehicle? Houston DWI defense attorney Tyler Flood can help you stand up for yourself before the scrutinizing gaze of the criminal justice system. Throughout his 15+ year legal career, he has maintained a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating as well as an AV Preeminent® Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®. Schedule a
free initial consultation with our law firm today to start your defense.


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