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Driving With an Open Marijuana Container in Colorado CRS 42–4–1305.5

Posted on May 30, 2023 in

Have you or a loved one been charged with using marijuana or driving with an open container of marijuana? Under CRS 42-4-1305.5, this is a traffic violation. It is never permitted for a driver to operate their vehicle under the influence of marijuana. These offenses typically result in a criminal charge.

What Constitutes an Open Container of Marijuana

According to CRS 42-4-1305.5, it is illegal to consume marijuana or to have an open container in the passenger portion of the car. The same laws that apply to open alcohol containers in Colorado also apply to marijuana.

Open marijuana containers, accessories, or receptacles are defined as follows:

  • It is actually open, or the seal is broken on the marijuana container.
  • Some of the contents have been removed from the container.
  • It is evident that the consumption of marijuana has taken place within the vehicle.

The containers mentioned here include packaging containers provided by the dispensary or marijuana shop. But are not limited to the packaging that the items came in. They can also be personal containers or canisters such as baggies.

Accessories could be the devices, like pipes or bongs, that are used to smoke marijuana. Having a container may not qualify as a legal infraction. There should also be proof that the marijuana was consumed inside the vehicle.

Marijuana Open Container Law Exceptions

Sometimes, penalties can be avoided due to exceptions in the marijuana open container laws. Below are some specific circumstances in which you are unlikely to be penalized.

  • Vehicles that you are paying to travel in, like Uber, Lyft, and other rideshares, buses, and taxis, offer an exception.
  • Possession in the living quarters of a camper, RV, or motorhome.
  • If the container was in a part of the car, not easily accessed or occupied.

What it Takes to Prove Guilt of Possession of an Open Container or Marijuana

While being in possession of an open container of marijuana is not considered a punishable legal offense under Colorado’s laws. It is regarded as a traffic offense, and the penalty carries a fine. Because of the less serious nature of a traffic infraction, the burden of proof is lower than that if it were a criminal offense. The following must be proved by the prosecutor:

  • The open container of marijuana was in the passenger area of the car.
  • The motorist was traveling on a public highway or public right-of-way.
  • The use or consumption of marijuana must have taken place.
  • An open marijuana container must have been in possession of the motorist.

Penalties for Open Container of Marijuana Charges

If charged with a CRS 42-4-1305.5 violation, the driver can face a penalty of $50 with an accompanying surcharge of $7.80. It is probably a good idea to avoid this charge. It could trigger law enforcement to consider that the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence.

This could lead to a chemical test to detect the presence of marijuana. If the substance is shown, the driver could potentially face DUI charges.

Seek Legal Counsel

Even though the fine is relatively small, the potential for other charges to accrue because of the open container is certainly there. If you have been charged with an open container violation, contact the skilled legal team at Flesch and Beck Law. One of our skilled DUI lawyers will review your case and protect your rights and your freedom.