Imagine you’re a responsible, law abiding adult who is interested in enjoying Colorado’s new legal marijuana market. You drive to your nearest pot shop, show your ID to prove you are over 21, and buy a small amount of marijuana including an added 20% state sales tax. You then get back in your car and unzip the bag to look at the product you just purchased. You’ve just broken the law by violating C.R.S. § 42-4-1305.5. The violation is a Class A traffic infraction and punishable by a fine of $50. While not the harshest punishment, any traffic violation gives a police officer reasonable suspicion to investigate a driver for DUI-D and request they consent to a blood test under Colorado’s Express Consent Law.
Under the current statute, a person is violating the open container of marijuana law if “the container has a broken seal, the contents were partially removed, or that there is evidence that marijuana was consumed in the vehicle.” Law enforcement has expressed their concern over what a broken seal means when dealing with plastic bags of marijuana. Colorado Senator Pat Steadman offers an answer to this conundrum and sponsored a recent bill to change open container of marijuana laws in Colorado, SB 14-129. Under the proposed bill, the above quoted law would be changed from an “or” to an “and,” requiring that all three factors be present for a violation of the statute instead of just one. This change to the law could have a drastic impact for anyone charged with DUI-D since it may offer a defense to the initial stop made by an officer.
It is important to note that this is just a proposed bill and has a long way to go before it becomes Colorado law. Under the current broad open container laws, it seems the only safe place an adult can keep marijuana in their car is either in a lock box or in the trunk.
If you have been charged with an open container violation, drug offense, or DUI-D; you should consult with an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Peter Loyd Weber and Associates know the laws in Colorado and will fight for you and your rights. Call us today at (720)863-7755 for a free consultation.