Want to enjoy a cold one here in Texas? It’s worth knowing about the open container laws in the state. While there are plenty of educational promotions out there about DUI laws, there aren’t nearly as many initiatives and resources devoted to telling people what they are and aren’t allowed to do with regard to open containers.

Therefore, to avoid accidentally breaking the law, it’s important that you do some research into the open container laws that exist and what you need to do to be acting in accordance with those laws.

The history of open container laws in the state is relatively straightforward—the laws haven’t changed a whole lot over the course of time. The laws as they currently exist were passed in 2001. Here’s some information from an alcoholic beverage license service in Dallas, TX to give you a better idea of what is and is not an open container and what you need to do to abide by the law.

What qualifies as an open container?

The biggest thing you need to be aware of with any open container law is what actually qualifies as an open container in the state. In Texas, an open container can be any unsealed bottle, flask, can or other device that is being used to hold alcohol. A partially consumed bottle of liquor or a cracked-open can of beer counts as an open container, but a fully sealed bottle or can does not.

The question you must then ask is when carrying an open container of alcohol constitutes a crime. In Texas, the open container must be in the “passenger area” of a motor vehicle, meaning the open container must be visible and within reach of the driver’s seat. Technically, the open container is not going to be in the passenger area if it’s in the trunk of your vehicle, in the glove compartment, in a locked storage area in the vehicle or in the area behind your upright seat (if you do not have a trunk). These open container laws for drivers apply whether you’re moving in your vehicle or not.

Open container laws also apply to passengers. Therefore, you should never let a friend in your vehicle bring along a “roadie” to enjoy—that’s illegal, even if the driver is completely sober.

There are some exceptions in some circumstances. Passengers on taxis, buses, trains or limos are often exempted from these open container laws, as are people in recreational vehicles, self-contained trailers and motorhomes. Open containers in the living quarters of those vehicles are not considered to be in violation of the law.

A violation of open container laws in Texas qualifies as a Class C misdemeanor—essentially the same as a traffic ticket. Aggravating factors, such as an elevated BAC, can raise the severity of the penalties you face.

LaBarba Permit Service is ready to assist your business in obtaining the proper license to sell and serve alcohol in Texas. For more information about open container laws in Texas, contact our alcoholic beverage license service in Dallas, TX.