Ask A Driver

Does the open container law apply to rideshare drivers in Houston?

In a Facebook post, Stram Denton decided to do a bit of trolling. (Does Stram Denton sound like a stripper from Denton, TX? Or is it just me?)

Anyhow, since this post is not really genuine, let’s think of this as a “what if” question.

What if you didn’t take riders on the app?
While, you have every right to do so (and should strongly consider building up your clientele if you do this full time), you will need commercial insurance. Depending on your driving record, this may cost you a $50 more a month, or $300 more a month. The best thing about this, is that you can charge more than the Uber rate. Sure, there are some thinking they can get a good deal out of you and save money, but if they really like you, they will pay anything you want.

On top of commercial insurance, you will need any applicable city and/or airport permits. The airport permit isn’t free like the TNC permit, but it pays for itself fairly easily, if you get enough riders. If you live out in the suburbs i.e. Katy, Porter, etc., they may not have for hire permits and you can save on this. (you will have to do your own research.) Since you are likely in the Houston market, it will be wise to get the Houston for hire permits, and a chauffeur license as they are not only needed in order to obtain permits for IAH and HOU but more importantly, you do not want to waste a bunch of miles if your rider gets dropped off in Houston. Of course, you can simply turn on the Uber and Lyft apps and pick up riders that way.

Not all cities are the same and you should do your own research to determine exactly what is needed in order to pickup riders outside of Uber and Lyft.

What if i just provided beers in a cooler? Doesn’t that go against the open container law?
In the second part of this post, Stram claims to provide beers in a cooler to their riders. Yes, I am here to tell you, you can 100% do this and get away with it.

source: https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/penal-code/penal-sect-49-031.html

” or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation.”

If a cop pulls you and your rider over and your rider has a drink in their hand, this is all you have to say:

“My vehicle is used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation.”

Unless you are being a total douche, that cop is not going to write you a ticket, if you are legitimately with a rider that is paying you money. The wording is such that it sounds like it favors full time drivers, however, a part time driver can say the same thing, so long as they put more miles on that vehicle for rideshare then they do for personal driving/regular commuting.

I for one, do not provide drinks to my riders (as they can turn out to be underage) but I do allow them to drink in my vehicle. I also have 5% tinted windows (that prevents prying eyes) all around my vehicle and was able to get it inspected for the exact same reason. “My vehicle is primarily used to transport riders for compensation.” At first they were hesitant because I do have commercial insurance, but they came around when I showed them my airport permit, which is considered to be a commercial permit and therefore I am exempt from the tinting laws. (If you decide to do the same, and get pulled over, the cops really appreciate when you roll all of your windows down before they get out of their car. #officersafety

source: https://www.fly2houston.com/biz/resources/commercial-vehicle-permits/

For those doubting because “the books do not expressly say “TNC”” –

1) We have a commercial vehicle permit from the airport
2) We have commercial insurance from Uber or Lyft every time we are on a ride.

With that said, if you are picking up riders off the app, without commercial insurance/permits, it is very likely you will nailed for having an open container.

Remember, it is also against the law to serve someone alcohol if they are under 21 years old. Be very cautious of who you give the alcohol to.

Lastly, you can not charge them for the alcohol, unless you have a TABC permit to do so, which you likely do not.

Disclaimer: We are not licensed lawyers, you should consult with an attorney first.












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