An open container in the State of Texas is any item, that contains any amount of alcohol, and which is unsealed. Yeti cups, thermoses, cans, opened bottles, and flasks that are capped – but which were previously opened – all fall within this category. Other examples of open containers in Texas include a liquor bottle with half of the liquor remaining and a beer can that is open. On the other hand, a liquor bottle that is still fully sealed or packaged does not constitute an open container.
In some open container criminal cases, the question of whether the seal has been broken on a container is a fact question that the trier-of-fact in the case (the judge or the jury) will need to determine during the trial proceeding.
Individuals in Texas who violate open container laws can be subject to serious penalties if the state prosecutor obtains a conviction against them. If you are currently pending a criminal open container charge, it is important that you have experienced legal counsel in your case arguing for you and representing you at all of your legal proceedings.
At the Law Office of David D. White, PLLC, our team can represent you throughout your entire criminal case, protect your rights while the case is pending, and aggressively represent you during all legal proceedings in court. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney, please contact us today.
Pursuant to the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an open container violation in Texas if they:
Moreover, when a person possesses one or more open containers over the course of a single incident, that amounts to a single criminal offense.
Additionally, for a Texas state prosecutor to obtain a guilty finding or conviction against you in an open container case, they must be able to satisfy their legal burden of proof. They do this by establishing the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor is unable to satisfy even one legal element of the open container charge, they will not be able to secure a conviction against you. As such, your entire criminal case may be subject to a complete dismissal.
Our experienced legal team can review the circumstances of your open container charge – as well as the circumstances surrounding your arrest – and determine your eligibility for arguing a successful legal defense in your case.
If you ultimately sustain a criminal conviction on an open container charge, a sentencing judge will have the duty to impose legal penalties against you. A criminal charge for possessing an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you could receive a maximum monetary fine of $500. Since this type of conviction is a “permanent criminal conviction” in Texas, it will remain on the offender’s criminal record for the rest of their life.
In addition to this potential legal penalty upon conviction, open container offenders could also be looking at numerous collateral consequences upon conviction. For example, they may have difficulty finding or keeping a job or obtaining admission to the college, university, or other educational program of their choice. Similarly, if they are already a student, they could potentially lose their scholarship funding or other financial aid.
If you are currently pending an open container charge in Texas, it is important that you have skilled legal counsel in your corner every step of the way. At the Law Office of David D. White, PLLC, our legal team could help defend you against your charge and pursue a dismissal of your case. However, if you ultimately sustain a conviction on your charge, we could represent you at your criminal sentencing hearing and work to minimize the legal penalties and collateral consequences you experience.
For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney, please call us at 512-369-3737 or contact us online.
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