Open Container Laws
Driving under the influence is by far the most talked about charge when it comes to alcohol-related offenses, but it is certainly not the only one. New Jersey has strict open container laws aimed at prohibiting this type of behavior from ever repeating itself, which is something to consider the next time you take alcohol in your car. With that in mind, the best advice is to always keep any type of alcohol in the only legal place in your car — your trunk. It is simply not worth the risk.
N.J.S.A. 39:4-51a and N.J.S.A. 39:4-51b articulate this area of New Jersey alcohol-related offenses, which include consuming alcohol while driving (usually this charge is ultimately attached to a DWI) and driving with an open container. The law surrounding this is simple: it is illegal for any driver or passenger of a car to have an open or unsealed alcoholic beverage in a moving vehicle, unless it is located in the trunk. It is also illegal for anyone in a car to consume alcohol while the car is moving. Even if no one in the car is drinking, passengers or a driver can still be guilty of breaking New Jersey’s open container laws if there are unsealed bottles or cans of alcohol in a vehicle. If an individual is found to be breaking the New Jersey open container laws, the following penalties are enacted:
- First offense: A fine of $200 and court surcharges
- Second offense: A fine of $250 or 10 days of community service and court surcharges
- Third and fourth offenses: Increased fines and penalties
To some a fine of less than $300 may not seem like too much but do not be fooled by what meets the eye. But like many other violations, it is the secondary effect of a violation like this that has a much larger impact. In the case of a New Jersey open container violation, the real impact is the presence of this conviction on your driving record that can affect everything from your insurance rates to any future encounters with the police.
At the Law Offices of Thomas Carroll Blauvelt, LLC, I will work hard to keep your driving record clean and your legal fees low. New Jersey open container laws can be confusing, which is why your initial consultation with me is always free. I am here to answer all your questions seven days a week. If you have been charged with violating an open container law, get in touch with the Law Offices of Thomas Carroll Blauvelt, LLC, today to discuss your case further. I look forward to speaking with you and working towards a solution!