What Are the Open Container Laws in Colorado – and How Do They Affect a DUI?

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Alcohol and driving a vehicle do not mix – and the state of Colorado has strict statutes for proving just that. But, it is important to know that a DUI does not just involve how much alcohol is in your bloodstream – it also involves open containers that are found inside your vehicle at the time of your arrest.

Open Container Laws of the Driver

A driver who has an open container in the state of Colorado is one of the most common alcohol-related offenses. You may not be charged with a DUI, unless you are also over the legal limit at the time of your traffic stop.

The Elements of an Open Container Violation

In order to establish an open container violation, the officer will need to show that:

  • You drove the vehicle
  • You drove that vehicle on public roads
  • You kept the container in your hand or within reach
  • The container held a specific amount of an alcoholic beverage
  • The seal of the container has been compromised or purposely broken

Open Containers Lead to DUI Investigations

If the officer finds an open container in your vehicle, he or she will start a DUI investigation. This usually begins with an alcohol test via field sobriety or breathalyzer. The officer will also administer the test if the open container is within the passenger area, too. If you do not pass the field sobriety test or you have a positive breathalyzer test, then you may face harsher charges due to the open container and your DUI. The open container violation is just one more citation that can be added to your criminal charges.

Proving the Violation

The officer would need to prove that the open container was present, and that it was connected to your DUI. The container must be in your control at the time of your arrest – or at least within arm’s reach inside of the vehicle. But, if the open container is not within your reach (such as in the backseat with passengers), you can still be cited for the related offense, because you allowed an open container to be kept inside your vehicle.

Drinking In Your Vehicle

You are forbidden from drinking alcoholic beverages inside your moving motor vehicle – regardless of whether or not you are under the legal limit. Being in possession of an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle is a severe violation of the law, and can result in harsher penalties than a standard DUI conviction.

In order to be convicted of driving your vehicle while being in possession of alcohol, the police do not need to establish that you were drunk at the time. Instead, they can just state that you were holding and/or drinking the alcoholic beverage while driving.

Contact a DUI Attorney Immediately

If you have been arrested for a DUI, along with open container violations, you cannot risk substandard defense. Instead, you need to contact an aggressive, skilled DUI attorney. Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. can assist you with your defense. Schedule a free consultation now by calling 719-577-9700, or contact him online with your legal questions.

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