Submitted by John Klingensmith,lieutenant, College Police
The holidays are always a time to celebrate, but celebrations can become dangerous situations when alcohol is involved. How alcohol impacts each person can be affected by weight and gender and by what a person has had to eat and how fast the alcohol is ingested. It is always safest to have someone who will not be drinking be the designated driver. The laws in Texas cover a variety of offenses where alcohol is involved. Know the law; review the Texas DWI laws listed below.
Driving Under the Influence - Minors
Section 106.041 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code makes it illegal for a minor to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor's system. Driving under the influence is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, an alcohol awareness course, community service, and driver's license suspension.
Driving While Intoxicated Section 49.04 of the Penal Code states that a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.
Driving While Intoxicated with an Open Container
Section 49.04 of the Penal Code also states that driving while intoxicated while the driver had an open container of alcohol in the person's immediate possession is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.
Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger Section 49.045 of the Penal Code states that driving while intoxicated while the vehicle being is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age is a state jail felony.
Definition of Intoxication Section 49.01(2)(a) of the Penal Code defines intoxication as "not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; OR (b) having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more."
Open Container Law (Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle)
Section 49.031 of the Penal Code says that a person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.