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Colorado’s open container law

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Posted By McAdams Law | August 12 2019 | DUI, Firm News, Traffic Offenses

If you drive with an open alcoholic beverage in your car, you violate Colorado’s traffic laws. Even if you are not under the influence, it is still against the law. There are few exceptions to this law. 

Additionally, it is also illegal to drive with an open container of marijuana. Here is an overview of the law to help you understand its prohibitions, exceptions and penalties. 

What the law prohibits

The statute makes it unlawful for both passengers and drivers to knowingly possess an open container of alcohol or consume alcohol in a motor vehicle. This includes all alcoholic beverages. It applies to all motor vehicles that have a purpose for traveling on public roads. Your car does not need to be in motion for you to violate this law. Even having an open container in your car that is parked on a public street is illegal. 

For the purposes of this law, a container is open if it has a broken seal, opened cap or partially removed contents. An open container may not be in any passenger area of the car, including any seating area or any place readily accessible from the seats.

Open container of marijuana

Due to the fact that cannabis is legal for recreational purposes in Colorado, the law also applies to this drug. However, there is one important difference when it comes to marijuana. In order for the container to be open, there must be evidence of marijuana consumption in the vehicle. 


Open containers may be in the trunk or behind the seat in a vehicle that does not have a trunk. Additionally, passengers in taxis, limousines and motorhomes are exempt from the laws. 


If you break this law, you are guilty of a class A traffic infraction. This comes with a $50 fine and extra surcharge. Of course, harsher penalties apply if you are under the influence.

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