What Should I Know About New Jersey’s Open Container Laws?
Everyone knows driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law. However, many are also unfamiliar with the fact that having an open bottle or can of alcohol in the car is illegal, even if you are not consuming it. As such, if you are stopped by the police and they see an open container of alcohol on your passenger seat, even if you are not under the influence, it can result in legal issues. Keep reading to learn more about this law and discover how a Bergen County, NJ traffic ticket attorney can help you navigate this legal matter.
What Is the Open Container Law?
In New Jersey, the open container law refers to the fact that drivers are prohibited from having unsealed bottles of alcohol in their vehicles. For example, if you bring a bottle of liquor to a friend’s house that you had consumed on a prior date, you cannot keep this in your car. Additionally, the passengers in your car cannot drink alcohol while you are driving, even if you are completely sober.
As such, you may wonder how you can transport open bottles of alcohol. If you need to transport alcohol, you must store it out of reach. Essentially, so long as it is not in the passenger portion of the vehicle, it is legal. This means you will likely need to store it in the trunk of your car.
What Are the Consequences of This?
If discovered with open containers of alcohol in your vehicle, it’s essential to understand what will happen. Generally, this does not warrant a criminal offense. Much like a DUI charge in New Jersey, this is considered a traffic violation. You will typically face a two-hundred-dollar fine. While you will not receive points on your license, it will appear on your driving record.
This is much more severe if you are under 21 but over 18. This is because it’s a disorderly person’s charge for someone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol in a vehicle. You can face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, you can have your license suspended for up to six months, even if you are just the passenger in the vehicle.
What Should I Do if Caught With an Open Container?
If caught with an open container, it’s essential to ensure you consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Though this doesn’t seem like the worst charge in the world, it can have a severe impact on your driver’s history, as this is a non-expungable offense.
As such, an experienced attorney may be able to help you beat the citation, depending on your circumstances. At the Law Offices of Richard E. Novak, our dedicated team understands the complexities of this matter. Contact our firm today to learn how we can assist you with these matters.