This Holiday Season, Read This Before You’re Caught on the Wrong Side of the Law

When someone in the passenger area of a motor vehicle intentionally consumes alcohol or marijuana while on a public road or has an open container of an alcoholic beverage or marijuana container in their possession, this is known as “driving with an open container.” Even if the individual is not driving or intoxicated, drinking alcohol or marijuana while in a vehicle is prohibited. Consuming an alcoholic beverage or marijuana while in the passenger area of a vehicle on a public road in Colorado is a Class A traffic infraction, as is having open containers of any substance. Under Colorado law, the fine is $50, with an additional fee of $16 for the alcoholic beverage or $7.80 for marijuana. Have you been charged under Colorado open container laws? Were you drinking alcohol or consuming marijuana? Retain a good Colorado criminal defense lawyer. Contact the experts at Chaput Law for a free consultation.

What Are the Rules on Having an Alcoholic Beverage in My Car?

There are some strict rules under the state’s open container laws.

Colorado open container law does not need a container to be totally exposed to be deemed an “open container.” For instance, an empty bottle of alcohol cannot be kept outside the trunk of a vehicle. Consumption of alcohol from an open container while driving is a guarantee for a DUI investigation. In the passenger area, while driving, an open container of alcohol is never permitted.

Under the open container regulations in Colorado Law:

  • The area intended to accommodate the driver and passengers while a vehicle is moving is referred to as the passenger area. This covers locations easily accessible to the driver, such as the glove box. 
  • Any bottle, can, or another container that holds any quantity of alcoholic beverage qualifies as an open alcoholic beverage container. 
  • The open container has a broken seal. 
  • The contents of the open container have been taken out in part. 
  • While the car is driving, no one in the passenger area is allowed to purposefully drink an alcoholic beverage or have an open alcohol container in their possession.

What Qualifies as an Alcoholic Beverage?

An open beer, cider, malt liquor, sake, wine, distilled spirits, or comparable fermented drinks with 0.05% or more alcohol by volume fall under this definition.

What if I Wasn’t Drinking?

Please note that there is no need for proof that alcohol was consumed inside the vehicle, unlike the prohibition against carrying an open container of marijuana. The mere possession of an open container may establish a violation. A $50 fine and an additional $16 penalty are the consequences for possessing an open container.

Where Can I Store Opened Containers of Alcoholic Beverages?

A safe bet is to ensure the alcoholic beverage is not readily accessible. The uncorked or unopened bottle cannot be brought into the vehicle’s passenger compartment, even if the alcohol was consumed at a place where it was lawful to do so (like your own home). An open alcohol container should be kept out of an area readily accessible, as in the car’s trunk.

Marijuana Open Container Laws In Colorado

The rules in Colorado for driving with an open marijuana container are similar to those for driving with an open alcohol container. According to CRS 42-4-1305.5, it is illegal for someone to consume marijuana knowingly or to have an open marijuana container in their possession while they are in the passenger compartment of a car on a public roadway. 

“Open Marijuana Containers”

Colorado law broadly defines “open marijuana containers,” stretching to encompass partially consumed containers and a previously opened bottle. A receptacle or marijuana accessory that carries any amount of marijuana is specifically described as one that: 

  • Has a broken seal, or is open
  • Has some of its contents removed 
  • Has been shown that marijuana has been ingested inside the car

What if I Wasn’t Driving?

We get it. You weren’t the one driving. However, the presence of marijuana smoke might cause a motorist to have their driving ability impaired, even if they are not themselves users. A DUI charge may result if a chemical test reveals that the motorist has marijuana in their system.

A Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Understands 

Colorado Open Container Laws

You could face worse charges while operating a motor vehicle in Colorado than open container violations. CRS 42-4-1301 defines driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, including marijuana, as a crime. Marijuana-related driving offenses are punishable by jail time, fines, and license suspensions. Certain circumstances can give rise to a defense to a charge under colorado open container law. Let’s explore those defenses together. At Chaput Law, we try to secure the best result possible for you. We can assist you if you have been injured due to carelessness, are facing criminal charges, or have been arrested. In Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and Denver, Colorado, we represent clients and the neighboring towns in the counties of Arapahoe and Douglas. 

Avoid the error of attempting to defend yourself or entering a guilty or no-contest plea. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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