Colorado Open Container Laws

Colorado has a lot to offer when it comes to beer and other alcohol-based products that are produced in-state. From local craft breweries to internationally renowned spirits, there is almost always something for everyone looking to try something made in Colorado. However, it is important for individuals to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly. One large part of that is making sure that you travel with a designated driver or take alternative forms of transportation if you plan on consuming alcohol. DUI laws are not the only laws you need to be concerned about. It is easy to run afoul of other regulatory laws, such as Colorado’s open container laws. These laws regulate the way you transport alcohol in your vehicle, and violating them could have serious consequences. The following information can help you understand more about the state’s open container laws.

Open Containers and Motor Vehicles

Most states, including Colorado, have laws that prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle. Some states only prohibit the driver from consuming alcohol, but in Colorado these laws apply to everyone in that vehicle, not just the driver. This means that any previously opened containers of alcohol, regardless of where those containers were opened, must be stored in the trunk. In vehicles that do not have traditional trunks, drivers may store open containers in areas not used by the driver or other passengers. There are also exceptions in the law for recreational vehicles, motor homes, and other such vehicles that may be used for driving and living purposes. Additionally, if you are a passenger in a vehicle that is used for commercial transportation purposes, like a taxi cab or ride-sharing vehicle, then you can keep open containers in the back seat with you and still be in compliance with state laws.

There are also open container laws that prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public places unless such places have been designated by law as an area where public consumption is permitted. While violating these open container laws do not typically involve driving or a vehicle, they can result in serious charges like public intoxication.

More Information

As you can see, open container laws do not actually require a bottle of alcohol to physically be open. They also apply to items legally purchased in a restaurant and sometimes in other venues that may have previously been opened. It is important to make sure you consume alcohol responsibly, and that means making sure you have no open containers in your vehicle. Open container laws exist to help discourage individuals from drinking and driving by making sure that containers are not accessible by the driver or anyone else in a vehicle that could enable an otherwise dangerous situation. Typically, violation of open container laws involves a fine. However, the consequences can be much more severe if an open container violation leads to a DUI or other alcohol-related charge. If you are facing criminal charges related to violating open container laws, including DUIs, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about what options might be available to you in your defense.

(image courtesy of Thomas Picauly)