Open container law in Texas: Fines, jail time, and other consequences.
You should also know that if you’re caught in the act of drinking and driving, the open container charge may be the least of your worries. Being caught drinking while driving can lead to other, more serious charges, possibly including DWI.
How bad is an open container ticket?
In the state of Texas, possession of an open container is a Class C Misdemeanor—in other words, it’s a traffic ticket. As long as your blood alcohol concentration is below .08 and you aren’t committing any other crimes in the process, you/your buddies will be issued a ticket and a fine.
But remember: While a Class C Misdemeanor may not seem so bad, misdemeanors hold costs beyond fines. A misdemeanor from the Texas open container law could affect college admissions and financial aid for students your ability to secure professional licensure, insurance costs, and more.
How much is an open container ticket in Texas?
The open container fine in Texas is no more than $500. However, you can receive a fine for each open container found in your vehicle, so if you have a stash of half-empty bottles rolling around in your front seat, then you may receive multiple $500 fines.
Open container law in Texas and jail time
If you receive an open container ticket by itself, you will not be required to spend time in jail. However, if you are on parole or probation, an open container violation could be more severe.
Is an open container violation the same as a DWI?
No. However, if coupled with related charges (such as a DWI), open container charges can become “enhanced” to a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries up to a $2,000 fine and 6–180 days in jail. Additionally, open container charges can become much more severe if you are found in DWI probation violation or if you have suffered a DWI license suspension in Texas from a previous DWI.
Defenses against Texas open container laws
Aside from the open container law exceptions, a range of defenses exist for the open container law in Texas. If you were subject to an illegal traffic stop by police or an unlawful search, you may be able to successfully defend charges with a skilled attorney.
If you’re a minor (under 21) and found to be in possession of alcohol, you may face the following penalties: Up to a $500 fine. A 30–180-day driver license suspension. 8 to 40 hours of community service.
Minor in Consumption of Alcohol. A charge of Minor in Consumption, also known as an MIC, is a Class “C” misdemeanor. The charge means that minor, who in this case is a person under the age of 21, was given a citation or MIC ticket for consuming an alcoholic beverage. Unlike an MIP, possession is not enough.