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3 common Colorado college student drinking questions

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP April 1, 2019

There are so many different laws when it comes to drinking in Colorado, that it can feel hard to keep track of all of them. But with the new semester in motion, now is a good time to focus on some of the drinking laws that tend to impact students the most.

Keep in mind, this is not a comprehensive list of all the laws related to drinking and you might find yourself in a situation that overlaps into more than one law, or includes laws not listed in this specific blog post.

Is it legal to drink in public spaces?

Yes and no. There are some public spaces where alcohol consumption is legal – but the person drinking must still be at least 21 years old and there are restrictions on the type of alcohol in terms of alcohol content. This said, while some cities may allow for drinking in certain areas – like Boulder allows for limited drinking at Open Space and Mountain Parks – counties and cities throughout the state have their own laws. Do not assume that just because something is legal in one city or county that it is also legal in another.

Is it against the law to serve minors at a house party?

Yes. The legal drinking age is the legal drinking age. If you are having a party at your home, you are legally responsible for making sure your guests who are drinking are at least 21 years old. Serving a minor alcohol is against the law and can result in a fine of up to $1,000, mandatory court appearances and court fees and could even land you in jail. This is on top of facing potential academic consequences for violating your college’s student conduct code.

Do you have to be throwing a party to get a nuisance party ticket?

This one might surprise you, but the answer is no. If there are two or more people and at least one municipal ordinance is in violation, you could wind up with a nuisance party ticket.

For example, if you have three people over and the music is loud and you have all been drinking, you can get a nuisance party ticket. However, the same is true if there are 50 people at your home. Do not assume that just because it does not look like a typical party that police will not cite you like it is.

A nuisance party ticket also comes with consequences, such as the possibility of a fine of up to $1,000, jail time, court fees and court appearances and community service. You could also face academic consequences for violating of your college’s student conduct code.

As a college student, it is important to keep all the various laws in mind when you are going out. If you find yourself in a situation where you are given a ticket or arrested, do not just assume this is part of the regular college experience and do not assume that your only option is to admit guilt. The next steps you take can greatly impact future academic and employment opportunities, so it is best to be well-informed of all your options before taking any type of action.