Open container ban advances in Colorado House

| Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Colorado House panel has forwarded legislation that would ban consumption and possession of open containers of alcohol in vehicles traveling public roadways in the state. The bill would also free up millions in federal dollars for improving Colorado roads.

Current state law prohibits drivers from having an open alcoholic beverage, but passengers 21 years of age or older are free to drink while in a moving vehicle.

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted 8-3 on Feb. 2 to eliminate the open container provision.

Violators could be fined at least $50 and have three points added to the driver’s license.

The bill – HB1122 – sponsored by Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver, now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.

Exceptions would be made for passengers in limousines and recreational vehicles.

Colorado is one of 14 states being forced to spend a portion of its federal highway money on traffic safety programs because it doesn’t have a ban on open containers of alcohol in vehicles.

The federal government mandated in 2001 that states pass such provisions or spend a percentage of federal highway dollars on public safety projects.

Since fiscal year 2001, $29 million in transportation money has been diverted from roads.

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