With more police shootings than ever before, the idea of having a gun on your person when confronted by a police officer certainly justifies feelings of unease. Indeed, police officers today are often very sensitive–and for good reason–to the word ‘gun,’ and those who brandish a gun in front of a police officer may very well be risking their lives. Which is why if you are driving in Colorado and have a gun in your vehicle and are pulled over by a Colorado police officer, knowing how to navigate the situation in a way that is both safe and legal is critical.
Here is a look at the laws regarding having a gun in the car in Colorado, the duty to inform an officer of possession if pulled over, when a police officer can search your car, prohibited possession of a weapon, and what to do if you are arrested for a DUI (or other offense) and have a gun in the vehicle:
Carrying a Firearm in the Car in Colorado – Is it Legal?
The first thing you should know about carrying a gun in your vehicle in Colorado is that assuming you have a license to possess a firearm, having the firearm within your vehicle is perfectly legal. Section 18-12-105 of Colorado Criminal Code states that it is not an offense for a person to carry a firearm on or about his person if the person is within a private automobile and is a person who carries a weapon for lawful protection of themselves while traveling.
Of course, if you are not licensed to have a firearm in your possession, then this is an entirely different scenario and situation which may result in criminal penalties.
Do I Have to Tell the Officer I Have a Gun?
In Colorado, there is no duty to inform an officer that you have a firearm within your vehicle if you are pulled over. However, while you are not legally required to tell the officer that you have a gun upon being pulled over, doing so may be advised, especially if the gun is on your person and you are asked to step out of the vehicle and/or you are in illegal possession of the firearm.
Rather than saying, “I have a gun,” which could be threatening to the officer and dangerous for you, you should inform the officer that you maintain a firearm license and currently have a firearm within the vehicle or on your person.
Can a Police Officer Search My Vehicle?
A police officer cannot lawfully search your vehicle in Colorado unless they have probable cause to do so or you give them permission. If either criterion is satisfied, you should certainly inform the officer of the firearm in your vehicle, as they will discover it on their own otherwise.
Illegal Possession of a Firearm and DUI
While it is perfectly legal to have a gun with your vehicle in Colorado if you are sober, if you are under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or substance, you are in violation of Colorado’s legal firearm possession laws (CRS 18-12-106). This means that if you are pulled over for a DUI and you are impaired, you have not only breached the state’s drinking and driving laws, but also firearm possession laws.
Informing an Officer of Firearm if Pulled Over for DUI
If you are pulled over for a DUI and you have a firearm in your vehicle, you should comply with an officer’s requests to the extent that you are required to do so (e.g., provide your name, get out of the vehicle if the officer asks you to, and generally remain cooperative). You are not required to submit to blood or breath alcohol testing, although your refusal to do so will immediately result in administrative penalties, including a one-year license suspension. You should inform the officer that you have a firearm, as if you are intoxicated, you are in illegal possession of the gun.
Hire a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence and illegal possession of a firearm, your first step following an arrest should be to hire a skilled Colorado criminal defense attorney. At the law office of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, our lawyers have experience handling cases like yours and will work hard to defend you against charges and protect your best interests. Please call us today for a consultation at 719-473-9099, visit our Colorado Springs office location in person, or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.