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How Can Having an Open Container in a Vehicle Impact a DWI Charge?

Updated: Feb 13, 2023 @ 10:51 pm

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

Having an open container of alcohol in one’s vehicle won’t significantly affect the severity of the penalties that a person faces if convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Being in possession of an open container can, however, hurt a person’s DWI case in many ways.

If you were recently arrested for DUI or DWI in Houston, Galveston or League City and also had an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you should contact an experienced open container violation lawyer who can help explain how those facts could affect your case. 

The Prosecution’s Evidence

Having an open container of alcohol in one’s car can be used by prosecutors as evidence when attempting to prove that someone had been driving while intoxicated prior to arrest. This type of evidence can place an especially critical role in cases where a person’s BAC results are put into question or are thrown out entirely. Of course, having more than one alcoholic beverage in the vehicle at the time of arrest would be considered even more convincing evidence of intoxication.

Aggravating Circumstances

Besides being used as evidence of intoxication, having an open container of alcohol in one’s vehicle could result in more serious penalties in the event of a conviction. This is because the presence of an open container could be considered an aggravating circumstance, resulting in a longer say in jail or heftier fines. A first time DWI conviction, for instance, generally comes with a mandatory 72 hours in jail. A DWI with an open container, on the other hand, enhances a person’s charge to a Class B misdemeanor and a mandatory six days in jail.

Separate Criminal Charges

Even if a person is able to avoid a conviction on a DWI charge, he or she could still be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor if found in possession of an open container of alcohol while occupying a vehicle.

Law enforcement officers often refrain from arresting a person for having an open container of alcohol in his or her car if there is no other evidence of intoxication. Individuals who find themselves in this situation, however, can still expect to receive a citation and a summons to appear in court. If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor open container violation, a person will be required to pay a $500 fine. The conviction will also go on his or her criminal record.

Contact an Experienced Open Container Violation Lawyer

A DWI with an open container charge should be taken seriously, as the open container can be used as evidence in the DWI case and can also result in enhanced penalties, including more time in jail. Those who have been charged with this kind of offense do, however, have the right to seek representation from a DWI attorney.

If you were recently arrested for and charged with DWI, as well as an open container violation, please call 713-802-1631 to learn more about your legal options. Talk with one of the experienced criminal justice lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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