Charged With Consumption of Alcohol While a Driver or Passenger?
New Jersey law is quite clear. It provides that a person cannot consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle (car, truck or motorcycle). A passenger in a motor vehicle also cannot consume an alcoholic beverage while the motor vehicle is being operated.
The law presumes that you have consumed an alcoholic beverage in violation of New Jersey law if an unsealed container of an alcoholic beverage is located in the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle, the contents of the alcoholic beverage have been partially consumed and the physical appearance or conduct of the operator of the motor vehicle or a passenger suggests consumption of an alcoholic beverage. For the purposes of this law, the term “unsealed” means a container with its original seal broken or a container such as a glass or cup.
If convicted, you can be fined $200. For a second or subsequent offense, a person convicted shall be fined $250 and ordered by the court to perform community service for a period of 10 days on such terms as the judge deems appropriate under the circumstances.
There is no state statute which proscribes simple possession of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. The law prohibits consumption, not possession. However, almost all municipalities have local ordinances which in some fashion prohibit possession of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle or in a public place.
For the first offense, a person convicted is fined $200. For a second or subsequent offense, a person convicted of violating this section is fined $250 or can be ordered by the court to perform community service for a period of 10 days on such terms as the judge deems appropriate under the circumstances.
In order for the state to prove its case under this statute, it must prove:
- The defendant was the driver of or a passenger in a motor vehicle, and
- That a motor vehicle was being operated, and
- While the defendant was consuming an alcoholic beverage.
The statute further provides that an open and partially consumed alcoholic beverage in the possession of the defendant gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the defendant was consuming the alcoholic beverage. If you have been charged with consumption of alcohol as a driver or passenger, it is important to have a knowledgeable NJ Municipal Court Attorney by your side throughout your trial.
Please call Fredrick P. Niemann Esq., an experienced Municipal Court Attorney, today toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find him non-judgmental, easy to talk to and more than willing to discuss your case.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Municipal Law Attorney