When I moved to Texas in the late 70’s, everybody in the car could have an open container…even the driver.I thought you’d get a ticket if you didn’t drink and drive in Texas.Or, at the very least, you’d be called a pussy (by the cops).Being from out of state, I had the impression that Texas was all hippy-dippy and liberal…like California.Total misconception!I had moved to the Bible Belt (they call it that because it’s located just below the distended belly of Oklahoma).At the time, there were Blue Laws.You couldn’t buy certain things on Sundays.Like alcohol and paper products.You could buy all of the baby food you wanted, but not diapers (that’s a recipe for disaster, right there).And no beer??Sundays are made for Michelob (wasn’t that the ad?).
Open Container means anything with the seal cracked. The Open Container Law has evolved quite a bit since the late 70’s.For a while there, you could have an open container in the vehicle with you, as long as it wasn’t within reach of the driver. But they had to change it again.There were too many soccer moms who would chuck the bottle into the back of the mini van when they were being pulled over by the cops.Which would be fine if you didn’t konk the kids in the head who are sitting back there.Soccer moms just ruin it for everybody…thanks a lot soccer moms!The new Open Container Law?The open container must be kept in the trunk of the car.Or, in a locked glove compartment or a locked console.Perhaps a small bottle of booze will fit in there.And it must be locked in there…you can’t trust yourself.Anything that won’t fit…just put it in the trunk…and get yourself a really long straw (just kidding).I stole that from my boyfriend.Who also says the open container fine is $500…Littering fine, about $250.“That’s a no brainer…I’m chucking it out the window of the car and saving myself about $250” (he’s a math genius).If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, you must put the container behind the last seat.And be sure to secure it.You don’t want to be the crying drunk.
I still see a few good ole boys out there on the freeway in rush hour traffic, putting one down.Long day, hard work (maybe weekends and week days are made for Michelob??)Having a cold one on the way home.What harm can one beer do…? Just ask that cop…he’s right behind you (psych). As I said before, we’ve come a long way.Texas now has a three strikes and you’re out policy.Although the first and second convictions for DWI carry stiff penalties, community service, some jail time, and mandatory AA meeting attendance (I hear they don’t serve drinks at those meetings… it’s b.y.o.b.).This does not include your attorney fees, which are astronomical.Your third conviction for DWI is a felony and comes with a nice black and white jumpsuit.The cruel part is…the stripes go the wrong way…not slimming whatsover.
A DWI is both financially and emotionally devastating.A real set-back.And that mistake remains on your driving record for many, many years.Not worth it.Call a friend, call a cab or, heck, call your Lawyer…you may need him.
Until next week.Be safe.Drive smart.
( Daun Thompson is a comedienne, artist and writer residing in the Big D )