Alcohol Related Laws in New Jersey
1. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
A. Operating Motor Vehicles While under the Influence of Intoxicants, N.J.S.A. 17:29A-35b(2) and 39:4-50)
A person is said to be legally intoxicated in New Jersey if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above .08%. A person may also be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if the individual is determined to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, regardless of the blood alcohol concentration level.
A person an also be charged with or convicted of DWI for "allowing" an intoxicated driver to operate their vehicle.
All persons convicted of DWI must pay an insurance surcharge of at least $1000 per year for three years
- IN ADDITION -
For a first offense, there are additional fines and charges of at least $470 (bringing the total minimum charges for a first offense to $3,7470); loss of license for 6-12 months; and a requirement to spend 12-48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or jail. There is also a possible 90-day jail term.
For a second offense , there are additional fines and charges of at least $720; loss of license for 2 years; a requirement to perform 30 days of community service and to spend 48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or jail. There is also a possible 90-day jail term.
For a third offense , there are additional fines and charges of at least $1,220; loss of license of r10 years; and a 180-day jail term. The insurance surcharge for a third-time offender is at least $1,500 per year for three years.
*These fines and charges do not include court and legal fees.
B. Driving While License is Suspended due to DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:33-40)
If a person is found driving while their license is suspended due to a conviction of DWI, they will lose their license for an additional 1-2 years, be fined $500, and face a possible 90-day jail term. If they are involved in an accident that results in an injury, they face a mandatory 45-day jail sentence.
C. Refusal to Take the Breathalyzer Test (N.J.S.A. 39:4-504a)
Refusal to take the breathalyzer test where there is a probable cause for arrest for DWI will result in a 6-month loss of license, a fine of $250-500, and an obligation to satisfy the requirements of an alcohol education or rehabilitation program. A person can also be convicted of DWI without the results of a breathalyzer test. In that case, they will suffer all the additional fines and penalties specified for the DWI conviction.
D. Underage Driver who has Consumed Alcohol (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14)
A new law passed in 1992 which applies to almost any alcohol consumption by underage driver (with blood alcohol above .01% but below .08%) and mandates suspension of driving privileges for 0-90 days with 15-30 days community service. A person, in addition to being charged with underage consumption of alcohol, can be charged with DWI and face the additional fines and penalties specified for a DWI conviction.
2. OPEN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTAINERS
A. In the Car (N.J.S.A. 39:4-51a)
Anyone found to have an open or unsealed container holding alcoholic beverages in a car faces a fine of $200 for a first offense and a fine of $250 or 10 days of community service for a second offense.
B. On the Streets
Penalties for possessing and consuming alcoholic beverage in public vary from town to town. In New Brunswick (Ordinance. 6-14.1), the penalty for such an action is a fine of $100-$1000 and/or a 90-day jail term. In Piscataway (Ordinance. 5-13.3), the penalty is a fine and up to $100 and/or a jail term of up to 15 days. The penalty in Newark (Ordinance. 17:2-7) and I Camden (Ordinance. MC-1017) is a fine of up to $500 and/or jail term up to 90 days.
3. Alcohol and the Underaged
The purchase and consumption of alcohol is a right extended by the state of New Jersey . The legal age of purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the state of New Jersey is twenty-one.
A. Possession or Consumption of Alcohol in places by the Underaged N.J.S.A. (2C:33-15)
Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, place of public assembly, or motor vehicle is guilty of a disorderly persons offense and shall be fined not less than $5000. If the offense occurs in a motor vehicle, it will also result in a six month loss of license.
B. Purchase of Alcohol by/for the Underaged (N.J.S.A. 33:1-81)
An underage person who purchases or attempts to purchase alcohol, or lies about their age, or a person of legal age who purchases alcohol for an underaged person faces a conviction of a disorderly persons offense, which incurs a fine of not less than $500 and loss of license of 6 months to one year. In addition, underage persons may be required to participate in a state-sponsored alcohol education program.
C. Serving an Alcoholic beverage to a Minor (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17)
Anyone who purposefully or knowingly offers or serves or makes available an alcoholic beverages to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or entices that person to drink alcohol or makes real property owned, leased or managed by him available for the consumption of alcohol by underaged persons is committing a disorderly person offense and is subject to a fine of up to $1000 if convicted.
D. Transfer of ID (N.J.S.A. 33:1-81.7)
Someone who is underage and uses another person's ID card to obtain alcohol, or someone of legal age give their ID card to an underage person so that they can obtain alcohol, faces a fine of up to $300 or up to 60 days in jail.
E. False ID (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1)
A person who knowingly sells, offers, or exposes for sale a document that simulates a driver's license or other document issue by a government agency and that could be used to verify a person's identity or age is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. There is a fine of $1000 if convicted.
4. Bartender Liability (N.J.S.A. 13:2-23.1)
If a bartender either serves a minor or a visibly intoxicated customer, the bartender can be held liable for that customer's injuries as well as injuries to a third party due to the negligent driving on the part of the customer.
A host or hostess who provides alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated guest can be held liable for injuries inflicted on a third party if that guest is involved in a motor vehicle accident.