If you or someone close to you has been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), and there is an open container of alcohol in the car, you need to reach out to a skilled New Jersey DWI attorney who can help. Known as the “open container law,” this law is designed to reduce drunk driving on New Jersey roads. We understand this area of the law and can help protect your rights at every step of the way.
Under New Jersey N.J.S.A. 39:4-51b, it is illegal for any occupant of a motor vehicle to have an open or unsealed alcoholic beverage inside the vehicle on a public road. Those who have containers of alcohol in their vehicle will typically be charged with a violation of the law, regardless of whether they are the driver of the vehicle or merely a passenger. It is important to note that consumption is not required for the behavior to be against the law.
An open container is an aggravating factor when it comes to a DWI case because it indicates that a person was drinking alcohol as they were driving. In other words, a judge would consider the presence of an open container a factor in determining whether or not the prosecutor has proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Under state law, if you want to transport alcohol, you can legally put it in the trunk of your vehicle. If you have a vehicle that does not have a separate trunk space, such as an SUV, you can place the bottle behind the last upright seat (which is basically the trunk of that particular vehicle). When it comes to RVs, motorhomes, and trailers, open containers can legally be in the living quarters of the vehicle.
If you are charged with having an open container in New Jersey, you may face a range of penalties, including a fine, surcharge, and court costs. For a first offense, the penalty is $200 and court surcharges; for a second offense, the penalty is $250 or 10 days of community service and court surcharges; and for a third and fourth offense, the fines and penalties are even tougher.
While it may seem difficult for the state to establish that you were consuming alcohol in your car, the reality is that it is not very difficult at all. If you have been charged with a DWI, the state simply needs to prove that there was an open container in the vehicle that was partially empty. Since this threshold is relatively low, it is imperative to have a skilled attorney on your side who can establish a solid defense.
If you have been charged with any offense involving driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is vital to seek the help of a seasoned New Jersey DWI lawyer who can assess the merits of your case. We will evaluate the circumstances of your arrest and help you understand your rights. We understand that this is a stressful time in your life, which is why you can expect the utmost compassion from us. To learn more, do not hesitate to call us at 877-450-8301 or contact us online.
More Blog Posts:
Alcohol Awareness Classes in New Jersey Following a DWI