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Colorado’s Open Container Laws

Colorado’s Open Container Laws

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.

Open Container & Open Consumption of Alcohol 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?

A container does not need to be completely open to be considered an “open container.” 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 a bottle, can, or other type of receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage.
  • An open container has a broken seal.
  • The contents of the container has 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 fine.

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 for an open container, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Although open container violations are low level crimes, any criminal activity that appears on your record can be damaging to your future employment or education opportunities.

Call (303) 818-2448 to speak with our team of Denver DUI lawyers and request your no-cost consultation today.


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