A few weeks ago, the Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 283, which immediately went into effect. This bill created a new open container law related to marijuana. The bill creates Colorado state criminal law that makes it a crime to use or have an open container of marijuana in a motor vehicle if you are the driver.
The new law created is C.R.S. 42-4-1305.5 (Open marijuana container – motor vehicle). It reads that it is illegal to have an “open marijuana container,” or 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. The “passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver and passengers, including the seating behind the driver. The motor vehicle must be in operation and the area covered by the law is any area is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in his or her seating position, including but not limited to the glove compartment.
The law does also prohibit passengers in cars from having open marijuana containers. The open container law, however, does not apply to 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, such a taxi cab or limousine. The law also makes exceptions for passengers in house coaches, house trailers, motor homes, and trailer coaches.
This new section of Colorado criminal traffic law also excuses 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 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.
The law punishes violators with Class A traffic infraction which is punishable by a fine of fifty dollars and court surcharges. Even worse is the possibility of a DUI-D charge for driving under the influence of drugs.