Explaining Texas’s Open Container Law

It is not just illegal to drive under the influence. Texas also has a law that prohibits driving a motor vehicle in which you possess an open container with alcohol in it. However, there are some important exceptions to the law.

Violating the open container law is a Class C misdemeanor and comes with hefty fines. Here is some important information about the law to help you avoid criminal charges.

Prohibitions and definitions

State law makes it illegal for you to possess an open container of alcohol in your vehicle’s passenger area while you are on a public highway. There are specific definitions for each of these terms. An open container is a can, a bottle or another receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage that has a broken seal, is open or has removed contents. The passenger area of your vehicle refers to any area that a driver or passenger could readily access. A public highway means any public street, road, interstate, highway or other areas open to the public for traveling with a motor vehicle. This includes parked and stopped vehicles.


There are specific times where having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle does not constitute a criminal offense. You can put an open container in a locked glove box, in the trunk or behind the last seat in a vehicle without a trunk. Additionally, passengers can possess open containers in the passenger area of a vehicle with the purpose of transporting people for compensation, such as a bus, limousine or taxi. Passengers can also possess open containers in the living areas of a recreational vehicle.


If you face charges for possessing an open container, you may face a maximum fine of $500. You must also appear before a judge. Additionally, an open container violation can enhance DWI penalties. If you face DWI charges, you may be subject to jail time.