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What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado DUI -DWAI – DUID Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – Email The Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com

What Are Colorado's Open Container Laws - Who Can Be Charged? - Alcohol - Marijuana


What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana

What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana – – Have you ever wondered whether you can be criminally liable when others are drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana in your car – you are the driver – it is your car.. What now?

Can I and my friends sit in my car and drink or smoke marijuana?

Understanding Colorado’s “Open Container” laws and how they apply means understanding reading the laws in context – understanding the exceptions to the laws and how they apply in under certain circumstances.

Colorado Open Container and Open Consumption of Alcohol Laws


There are three “categories” of Open Container Laws

Category I – Laws apply to open container or consumption of alcohol or marijuana within motor vehicles.

Category II – Laws that apply to partially consumed containers or bottles containing alcohol removed from restaurants (open containers or consumption of alcohol or marijuana in public).

Category III – Laws that permit “strolling outdoors” in designated areas for the consumption of alcohol.

Category I – 40 states, which includes Colorado have laws that prohibit the consumption or possession of open containers of alcohol while in a motor vehicle.

Category II – 7 states -prohibit drivers from consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle, but the laws do not extend to passengers in the motor vehicle. And Thirty-nine states allow people to remove partially consumed bottles of wine from restaurants.

Category III – 5 states have laws that allow for common consumption areas or districts in specified entertainment districts or areas…. New Orleans is an example..

So What Is An “Open Container?” Of Alcohol

Under the law – a container need not be totally “open.” An example? A previously opened bottle of alcohol such as resealed wine cannot be forward of the trunk area in a car. No one in a vehicle may have an open alcohol container.

Bottom Line – No open container is allowed anywhere in the passenger compartment of a passenger vehicle while on a public highway. (exceptions exists for limos, RV’s etc.)

The penalty is only a Class A civil offense (not criminal) that carries a $50 fine.

Here Is The Alcohol Based Version Of Colorado’s Open Container Law

42-4-1305. Open alcoholic beverage container–motor vehicle–prohibited

(1) Definitions. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Alcoholic beverage” means a beverage as defined in 23 CFR 1270.3(a).

(b) “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public highways but does not include a vehicle operated exclusively on a rail or rails.

(c) “Open alcoholic beverage container” means a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and:

(I) That is open or has a broken seal;

or

(II) The contents of which are partially removed.

(d) “Passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while a motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in his or her seating position, including but not limited to the glove compartment.

(2)(a) Except as otherwise permitted in paragraph (b) of this subsection (2), a person while in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is on a public highway of this state or the right-of-way of a public highway of this state may not knowingly:

(I) Drink an alcoholic beverage;

or

(II) Have in his or her possession an open alcoholic beverage container.

[HMS – Here are the exemptions under the law:]

(b) The provisions of this subsection (2) shall not apply to:

(I) Passengers, other than the driver or a front seat passenger, located in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation;

(II) The possession by a passenger, other than the driver or a front seat passenger, of an open alcoholic beverage container in the living quarters of a house coach, house trailer, motor home, as defined in section 42-1-102(57), or trailer coach, as defined in section 42-1-102(106)(a);

(III) The possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk; or

(IV) The possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in an area not normally occupied by the driver or a passenger in a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.

[HMS – Penalties are very minor…]

(c) A person who violates the provisions of this subsection (2) commits a class A traffic infraction and shall be punished by a fine of fifty dollars and a surcharge of seven dollars and eighty cents as provided in section 42-4-1701(4)(a)(I)(N).

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt or limit the authority of any statutory or home rule town, city, or city and county to adopt ordinances that are no less restrictive than the provisions of this section.

Here Is The Marijuana Based Version Of Colorado’s Open Container Law

A New Colorado Law – Open Marijuana Containers

42-4-1305.5. Open marijuana container – motor vehicle – prohibited.

(1) Definitions. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Marijuana” shall have the same meaning as in section 16 (2) (f) of article XVIII of the state constitution.

(b) “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public highways but does not include a vehicle operated exclusively on a rail or rails.

[HMS- Study how broad the following definition is…]

(c) “Open marijuana container” means a receptacle or marijuana accessory that contains any amount of marijuana and:

(I) That is open or has a broken seal;

(II) The contents of which are partially removed;

or

(III) There is evidence that marijuana has been consumed within the motor vehicle.

(d) “Passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver and passengers, including seating behind the driver, while a motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in his or her seating position, including but not limited to the glove compartment.

(2) (a) Except as otherwise permitted in paragraph (b) of this subsection (2), a person while in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is on a public highway of this state or the right-of-way of a public highway of this state may not knowingly:

(I) Use or consume marijuana;

or

(II) Have in his or her possession an open marijuana container.

[HMS – What follows are the exemptions…]

(b) The provisions of this subsection (2) shall not apply to:

(I) Passengers, other than the driver or a front seat passenger, located in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation;

(II) The possession by a passenger, other than the driver or a front seat passenger, of an open marijuana container in the living quarters of a house coach, house trailer, motor home, as defined in section 42-1-102 (57), or trailer coach, as defined in section 42-1-102 (106) (a);

(III) The possession of an open marijuana container in the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk; or

(IV) The possession of an open marijuana container in an area not normally occupied by the driver or a passenger in a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.

[HMS – Here is the penalty section…]

(c) A person who violates the provisions of this subsection (2) commits a class A traffic infraction and shall be punished by a fine of fifty dollars and a surcharge of seven dollars and eighty cents as provided in this section and section 42-4-1701 (4) (a) (I) (N).

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt or limit the authority of any statutory or home rule town, city, or city and county to adopt ordinances that are no less restrictive than the provisions of this section.

Conclusion – What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana

While the alcohol open container law has been around a very long time and is clear, the new marijuana open container law is not so clear.

One thing is certain – be warned that you must make certain that any marijuana in your vehicles (if you are on a public roadway or right-of-way) is in a sealed container and that the seal should not be broken or – if broken – the marijuana is placed in an area of the car such as the trunk – or if no trunk – the very, very back of the vehicle – such as the open area of an SUV behind the last row of upright seats. .

An example of a container that is “sealed” is the one so called “Pot Shops” provide which are sealed by the pot retailer. Anything else seems to be subject to the officer’s discretion because “sealed” is not really defined in the law.

Remember how broad the definition is – an “open marijuana container,” is a receptacle that contains any amount of marijuana, that is open or has a broken seal; or the contents of which are partially removed in the ‘passenger area’ of a motor vehicle. “

Remember because the “glove box” is “readily accessible’ it should not be used as a stash.

The exemptions include vehicles designed, maintained and primarily used to transport people for compensation… examples? the back seats of cabs, limousines, and other kinds of commercial transport vehicles…RV’s are also exempted. The law prohibits passengers from having open marijuana containers unless they fit into one of the exemptions..

What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana

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Why Do I Need An Open Container Lawyer in Denver, Colorado?

Open Container laws are very low level crimes – no doubt. However – ANY criminal history is a danger to future employment opportunities and should be taken seriously.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com – A Denver Colorado DUI – DUID – DWAI – Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about the topic of this article – What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Criminal DefenseH. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg regularly appears and provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the courts of:

Adams County (Adams County criminal defense lawyer), Arapahoe County (Arapahoe County criminal defense lawyer), City and County of Boulder (Boulder County criminal defense lawyer), City and County of Broomfield (Broomfield County criminal defense lawyer), City and County of Denver (Denver criminal defense lawyer), Douglas County (Douglas County criminal defense lawyer), El Paso County – Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer), Gilpin County (Gilpin County criminal defense lawyer), Jefferson County (Jefferson County criminal defense lawyer), Larimer County, and Weld County ( Larimer and Weld County criminal defense lawyer,….

and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving the subject of this article -What Are Colorado’s Open Container Laws – Who Can Be Charged? – Alcohol – Marijuana.

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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