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Can passengers drink alcohol in a car in New Jersey?

Everyone knows that drinking and driving is illegal, but what if you're not the one driving? In most states, including New Jersey, open container laws extend to passengers in most types of vehicles. That means that even if you're just a passenger, you still can't drink alcohol or have an open container in the passenger area. If caught, you could face fines of $200 or 10 days of community service. 

What counts as an open container?

If a beverage container isn't full, it counts as an open container. Open containers also include cups, glasses and full bottles where the seal has been opened. For example, if you uncork a bottle of wine at a party and don't touch a drop, then carry it home with you, it could still be considered an open container.

Can I put an open container in the glove box or truck?

Glove box: no. Truck: yes. The law in New Jersey and most other states prohibits open containers in any place a passenger can easily reach.

Are there exceptions for limos and party buses?

Yes. The open container law doesn't apply to limousines and certain charter vehicles.

What about other states?

Seven states - Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia and West Virginia - don't have laws prohibiting passengers from drinking alcohol. All other states do. Regardless of where you're driving, you should be careful: some cities have open container ordinances in the absence of a state law.

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Law Office of Jack L. Stillman, P.A.
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