What You Need to Know About Open Containers and Public Intoxication
Chances are you’ve heard the expression. You might easily equate ignorance with bliss. However, the fact that you don’t know something won’t matter when it comes to breaking the law. For that reason, you should make sure you understand New Jersey’s open container and public intoxication laws.
Without question, it could be a simple mistake. Maybe you decided to pack a picnic lunch and head over to Liberty State Park. It might not even occur to you that you can’t bring along a bottle of fine wine. Meanwhile, alcohol of all types is prohibited in the park. Consequently, you could find yourself in trouble.
What about if you’re craving a cold one when you hop on a New Jersey Transit train or bus? While it’s never legal to drink while a passenger on a commuter bus, that’s not necessarily true for the railroad. New Jersey Transit mandates all beverage consumption on its train lines.
Consider this news article about last month’s Fourth of July holiday. All liquids were banned from the trains. Generally speaking, you should also forget about drinking booze while a rail passenger on New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day. And, no matter what the occasion, behavior caused by public intoxication can land you in court.
Open Container Law in New Jersey
All things considered, it is important to understand the placement of the law on open containers. More specifically, it appears in Title 39, also known as the motor vehicle code. Here is a breakdown of NJSA 39:4-51b, entitled the “Prohibition of possession of open, unsealed alcoholic beverage container, circumstances:”
- The law applies to all occupants of a motor vehicle, with the exception of passengers on certain buses and limousines.
- An open or unsealed alcoholic beverage could include something as simple as an uncorked bottle of wine, even if no liquid is missing from it. A cup or open can filled with an alcoholic beverage is considered an open or unsealed container.
- Vehicle occupants can avoid facing open container violations by ensuring that the alcoholic beverages are unopened or sealed. Otherwise, the alcohol should be placed in the car’s trunk or behind the last upright seat if the vehicle does not have a trunk.
- Convictions for this offense include monetary fines and possible community service.
No doubt many of these types of violations are misunderstandings. In fact, a number of people discard open alcohol bottles for fear of carrying them in their trunk. Additionally, you should also know those open containers are prohibited on public sidewalks.
In the meantime, there’s one more matter for consideration. Forget about the idea of traipsing alcohol to the beach. With limited exceptions, alcohol consumption on New Jersey’s beaches is strictly prohibited. It doesn’t matter if you arrive with a sealed six pack or open container.
Public Intoxication Laws
This may come as a surprise. According to NJSA 26:2B-26, counties, and municipalities are not permitted to create laws forbidding public intoxication. Notwithstanding, that doesn’t mean you won’t face charges for something else that may occur as a result of your intoxication. Some examples of other offenses related to public drunkenness include the following:
- Driving while under the influence
- Engaging in lewd behavior (i.e. urinating in public)
- Assault charges
- Causing noise disturbances
Obviously, there are many other reasons that you can be arrested in you are found drunk in public. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in fighting complaints made against you.
Have questions concerning open container laws or public intoxication? The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone can provide you with legal advice concerning your charges. Give us a call to see how we can help!