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Open Container Laws in Texas: What You Need to Know To Avoid an Open Container Violation

Many people wonder whether or not they’re allowed to simply walk around in public while drinking their favorite alcoholic beverage. In reality, the answer to this question depends on the laws in a certain area. In areas that don’t allow open containers, there are a list of reasons stated as to why these laws are necessary. These laws are usually focused on:

  • Lessening the chances that people will drink and drive and possibly cause accidents
  • Preventing obnoxious public behavior that can potentially lower a community’s quality of living
  • Ensuring that federal funding is received, as states with open container laws receive certain subsidies from the government

What are Open Container Laws?

Open container laws are meant to regulate where people are allowed to drink while in public. Definitions of “public” will vary depending on where a person lives and prior decisions courts have made on the issue. A person may be seen as violating an open container law if they possess or drink alcohol on public sidewalks, school property, in parking lots and even while inside one’s own parked car. This list, however, is not exhaustive.

As mentioned, there are many stated purposes of these laws. It was the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century that withdrew federal highway funding from states that didn’t take steps to curb drinking while in automobiles.

Exceptions to the Open Container Laws in Texas

There are actually only seven different states that don’t have laws that would completely prevent consuming alcohol in public. In cities such as New Orleans, for instance, people can drink on sidewalks as long as they use a plastic cup. They cannot, however, drink in parking lots. Las Vegas also allows for public drinking, but restricts drinking from glass containers on certain holidays.

The aforementioned areas refrain from passing open container laws in an effort to bring in more tourism. Tourists in these areas find it very simple to drink in bars, hotels, restaurants and major tourist destinations like the Las Vegas Strip without having to worry about receiving fines. It’s important to remember, however, that seriously drunken behaviors like DWI and public urination (an example of indecent exposure) will still be punished.

Fighting an Open Container Violation

A person who is charged with an open container violation isn’t automatically considered guilty. It’s best that they hire either a criminal defense or DWI attorney, since these professionals will know whether a defendant actually broke any law and whether or not police followed appropriate procedures during the arrest.

If you would like to know more about open container laws or need advice on fighting a charge, speak to The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.

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