Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 89
By: Hill
Criminal Jurisprudence


Under current federal law, states are required to enact a law that
prohibits the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container or the
consumption of any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor
vehicle on a public highway.  If a state has not enacted or is not
enforcing an open container law, federal law requires that a percentage of
federal highway funds apportioned to the state be transferred for use in
traffic safety programs.  The percentage of funds required to be
transferred to traffic safety is 1_% on October 1, 2001.  If the state
continues to be out of compliance by October 1, 2002, the amount
transferred increases to 3%.  Texas continues to not be in compliance with
federal law, and as a result, the state is transferring certain highway
construction funds into traffic safety programs that may be better spent on
projects to ease congestion and enhance mobility on highways.  House Bill
89 establishes provisions which bring the state into compliance with
federal open container laws. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 89 amends the Penal Code to provide that a person commits an
offense if the person consumes an alcoholic beverage while operating a
motor vehicle in a public place, regardless of whether the person is
observed doing so by a peace officer.  In addition, the bill provides that
an occupant of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway or on
the right-of-way of a public highway, including a rest area, comfort
station, picnic area, roadside park or scenic overlook situated on the
right-of-way of a public highway, commits an offense if the person consumes
an alcoholic beverage, or possesses in the passenger area of the motor
vehicle a receptacle that contains an alcoholic beverage that has been
opened, has a broken seal, or has the contents partially removed.  The bill
provides an affirmative defense to prosecution  if the person consuming or
possessing the alcoholic beverage is a passenger in the living quarters of
a house coach or house trailer, or is a passenger in a motor vehicle
designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons
for compensation.          


September 1, 2001.