Glass recyclers are in the clear with open containers

Sunday, July 29, 2018 8:53 PM

I was taking my glass to the recycling station. On the way, it occurred to me that there were several beer and alcohol bottles in the mix. Having an open container in the car is illegal in many jurisdictions. While my bottles were empty, am I breaking the law by transporting them to the recycle center? Best, Kim

It’s a sobering thought. Could recycling result in legal woes?

For serial recyclers, the new slogan might be: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recidivism.

Let’s take the first sip at state law governing open containers.

It’s found in part of Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, dryly called “Open Alcoholic Beverage Container – Motor Vehicle – Prohibited.”

The law defines “open alcoholic beverage container” as “a bottle, can or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open or has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.”

So, for the purist jurist, the rule is gin clear.

“Any amount” could mean the backwash in a Bud can or, nay, a post-soiree chardonnay bottle.

However, that’s not last call on the matter. The law serves up exceptions for those who would transport receptacles of adult leisure beverages.

First, open containers are allowed in the rear passenger area of cabs, limos or “vehicles for hire.”

Peregrinating partiers please note: Just because open containers can be allowed doesn’t mean they are. Many drivers or carriage companies forbid mobile refreshments.

Second, the law allows bar service for travelers in “living quarters of a house coach, house trailer or motor home.”

The legislation doesn’t explain why anyone would want to get drunk in a towed livestock trailer.

This act of dystopian dipsomania should be barred on humanitarian grounds. But that’s a horse of a different color.

The third legal exception applies to most recyclers. The law says you can “possess” an open container “in the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.”

Thus, if you quaff, the law you won’t scoff – if you carry recycling in the back of your SUV or bed of your truck.

This might explain why one sees many beer cans in the back of a pickup. It’s recycling, right?

In any case, it’s an open-and-shut matter with alcohol containers. They can’t be in readily accessible areas such as under the seat or inside the glovebox.

Does anyone ever have gloves in their “glovebox”?

Certainly not Mrs. Action Line. Her dashboard compartment contains a variety of safety items, such as the owner’s manual, insurance card and registration, flashlight and tire gauge.

Plus, there’s a small box of Kleenex and roll of peppermint Breath Savers. These two things come in handy in many situations.

Her pair of emergency gloves, by the way, are in the back where the occasional glass recycling goes.

Email questions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can ask for anonymity if you still have a folded paper map in the glove box of your GPS-equipped vehicle.