ASK A COP — What are Texas’ rules on open alcohol containers in moving vehicles?
Published 1:30 pm Monday, December 12, 2022
Arthur asks: I was riding home from work a few weeks ago with a co-worker, and he stopped at a gas station and picked up a beer. My eyebrows went up because I’m totally against drinking and driving. He then opened the can of beer, and that’s when my mouth went into gear. I told him, among other things, “you can go to jail for drinking and driving.” That’s when he started laughing saying he can’t be taken to jail for drinking and driving because, at that point, he’s just started drinking. He told me I needed to chill down and asked if I wanted some of his beer! I know several people who have been arrested for drinking and driving. Have I fallen into a dark hole where I’ve been suspended in time? Is driving while drinking still illegal in Texas?
Answer: It seems you may need a little tweaking about the driving while drinking law in Texas. No one should consume any amount of an alcoholic beverage and drive a motor vehicle. Your co-worker was wrong and right in his behavior and answer the other day. You are right. It is illegal to consume or be in possession of any open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle in Texas. With that said, your co-worker was right, being that he just got off work and it’s safe to say after a few sips of the beer, he was NOT intoxicated. Not many motorists are aware of the two violations someone can’t be arrested for while being a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle. Apparently your co-worker is aware of one, and that’s having an open container of alcohol while in a motor vehicle. This is definitely not a green light to drink and drive because it is still illegal, but if you’re not intoxicated you can NOT be arrested for the open container of alcohol beverage. I stand with the state of Texas and the motto “Don’t Drink and Drive!” Don’t do it because most motorists can’t judge their point to stop the consumption of alcohol beverages before they get behind the wheel. Annually, statistics have proven the dangers of the deadly act of driving while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Let’s be the opposite of NIKE and say “JUST DON’T DO IT!!”
Lenny asks: Officer Antoine, my coworker and I are at odds over a turning issue. We would like you to end this debate for us. When turning right at a red light, when there’s no traffic coming, can I turn without stopping all the way? I always look for other vehicles on the roadway before committing the turn. Does a vehicle have to come to a complete stop before turning at a traffic signal if no other vehicles are near that intersection?
Answer: In Texas you must come to a complete stop when turning right on a red light. Yes, you can turn right at a red light, but that’s only after you have brought your vehicle to a complete stop. In reality, the red light must be treated like a stop sign, meaning you must yield the right of way to all vehicles traveling that direction while the light is red, before you attempt a right turn at a red light. Traffic signal intersections are dangerous and deadly when the signals aren’t obeyed by motorists.
Mable asks: Can an ex-felon own a firearm if he/she keeps it in the home for personal protection? I heard you must complete five years post discharge of probation or parole.
Answer: This is true according to the state of Texas laws, but federal laws are much more expansive in terms of prohibiting convicted felon persons from possessing firearms than Texas laws. Firearm possession by an ex-felon is still a federal violation, and ex-felons are still subject to federal prosecution. Federal law says a person convicted of a felony grade crime can NEVER be in possession of a firearm! One way for any person to be clear to own a firearm would be a presidential pardon, and they are very difficult to obtain. Texas law says YES, but federal law says NO. So the decision is up to the individual, and I would recommend anyone to consult an attorney who specializes in such issues.
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