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Open container

Colorado’s latest new law concerning open alcoholic beverage containers in motor vehicles.

By, Trooper Novotny, Colorado State Patrol

One of the primary objectives of the Colorado State Patrol has been to reduce the number of alcohol related crashes on Colorado’s roadways. In this edition we will discuss Colorado’s latest new law concerning open alcoholic beverage containers in motor vehicles. Until just recently Colorado had no open container law.

Prior to the new law it was legal to be on a public highway with an open beer or any other type of opened alcohol beverage. Most towns and city municipalities in Colorado have had an “open container” ordinance in place for years. Effective July 1st of this year, it is illegal throughout Colorado to have any open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle on a public highway. In creating the new law Colorado law makers were mindful enough to allow for exemptions when operating or riding in several different types of vehicles, which will be covered at the end of this article.

The law simply states that when a motor vehicle is on a public highway an open alcoholic beverage container, meaning a bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any amount of alcohol that is open or the seal is broken and which the contents are partially removed cannot be in the passenger area of the motor vehicle. The law specifically describes the passenger area as the area that seats the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in their seats, including but not limited to the glove compartment. It is now unlawful to be in a vehicle on a public highway and drink an alcoholic beverage or to have open alcoholic beverage container.

As mentioned earlier there are exceptions and various situations in which open alcoholic containers are permissible in motor vehicles on public highways. This law does not apply to people riding in any vehicles that are designed specifically to transport passengers like limousines, ski buses, gaming buses etc. unless you’re the driver or the front seat passenger on any of these vehicles. Another exemption would involve any passengers, other than the driver or a front seat passenger traveling in the living quarters of a house coach, house trailer and motor home.

In both of the exemptions noted above if you are the driver or the front seat passenger it is now illegal to possess an open container or alcohol. It is acceptable to possess an open container of alcohol in the area behind the last upright seat of a vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk and in an area not normally occupied by the driver or a passenger in a motor vehicle. The open container law is one more tool for law enforcement to use in an effort to reduce drinking and driving incidents and to promote responsible driving overall. Safe roads should be a priority for all drivers on Colorado roadways. Drive safely and report suspected intoxicated drivers to *CSP on your cell phones.








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