Open Container Law in Colorado
In order to understand the open container laws in Colorado, they need to be explained in context. In this blog we talk about open container laws and what exceptions apply in certain circumstances.
Categories of Colorado Open Container Laws
In Colorado, there are 3 categories of open container laws:
- Category 1: Applies to open containers or consumption of alcohol or marijuana within motor vehicles.
- Category 2: Applies to partially consumed containers or bottles containing alcohol that have been removed from restaurants.
- Category 3: Permits “strolling outdoors” in designated areas where alcohol can be consumed.
What Is Considered an “Open Container” of Alcohol under Colorado Open Container Law?
A container does not need to be completely open to be considered an “open container” according to Colorado open container law. For example, a previously opened bottle of alcohol cannot be placed outside of the trunk area in a car. No person in a vehicle can have an open container of alcohol. Open containers are never allowed anywhere in the passenger compartment while driving.
Under Colorado’s open container laws:
- An open alcoholic beverage container is any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage.
- An open container has a broken seal.
- The contents of the container have been partially removed.
- A passenger area is the space designed to seat the driver and passengers while a vehicle is moving. This in areas includes whatever is readily accessible to the driver, including the glove compartment.
- A person in the passenger area of a motor vehicle cannot knowingly consume an alcoholic beverage or have an open alcohol beverage in their possession while the vehicle is moving.
Violating these laws can result in a Class A traffic infraction and comes with a $50 fine plus a surcharge of $16 for alcohol or $7.80 for marijuana.
Colorado Open Marijuana Container Laws
When it comes to marijuana, similar open container laws apply to motor vehicles as well. Any receptacle or marijuana accessory that contains any amount of marijuana, and has an open or broken seal, is considered an “open marijuana container.” The “passenger area” restrictions for open marijuana containers are similar to open alcohol containers.
If you have been cited under Colorado open container law, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Although open container violations are low-level crimes, any criminal activity appearing on your record can damage your future employment or education opportunities.