Texans who are arrested for alcohol-related vehicle offenses might automatically associate the charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). Obviously, a person who is stopped by law enforcement and investigated for DWI will likely face charges if they have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. There are various strategies to lodge a defense against these allegations such as calling the validity of the stop into question or challenging the testing device. The driver might even have been innocent of DWI. Still, there are other charges that a person can face when they are found in a vehicle with alcohol. Possessing an open container of alcohol in the motor vehicle will also lead to charges.

The law has specific requirements related to open container violations. While these can lead to an arrest, there are also inherent strategies to combat the charges. An open container is defined as anything with a broken seal that can contain a beverage. That includes a cup, bottle or a can. Some of its contents must have been removed. It must be in the vehicle’s “passenger area”. Importantly, if the open container was in a storage container, the glove compartment or other locked box, it will not be considered as a violation. This is also true if the receptacle was in the trunk or in an area behind the vehicle’s last seat if there is no trunk.

The road upon which the vehicle was at the time of the alleged violation is also important to the case and subsequently to the defense. It must be on a “public highway”. This means a road, interstate or any other area where vehicles traverse and is publicly maintained for the population’s use. There will be charges if the driver is on a public highway in any capacity even if the vehicle is idling or parked. Other people in the vehicle can also be charged. Motorized homes are not subject to this law. This will be a Class C misdemeanor. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $500.

Any conviction can have a negative impact on a person’s life even if it only seems minor at the time. It can hinder a person’s ability to get certain jobs, be admitted to a school or the military and have extensive and unexpected challenges due to one minor mistake. Lodging a defense can be a critical part of avoiding the negative connotations of a conviction of any kind.

Ordinarily, this might not be assessed in the context of a DWI charge, but people may be confronted with a citation for an open container when they are investigated and charged with DWI. DWI charges have their own series of penalties including loss of driving privileges, fines and jail time. To avoid the consequences for open container or DWI violations, it may be wise to have legal assistance experienced in criminal defense.