It may seem like a kind of dumb question: can I, a passenger, drink alcohol in a vehicle if I'm not the one behind the wheel?

Of course, we all know not to drink and drive, but what about riding and drinking?

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Between you and I, I had no idea that it was illegal in some states to consume alcohol as a passenger in a vehicle.

A while back some friends and I went to an Eagle's Commanders game in Maryland, one of our friends cracked a beer open in the back seat on the way to the tailgate.

The driver immediately pulled over and had the passenger throw out the open container at a gas station.

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Apparently, everyone in the car was at risk for a big fine if the driver was pulled over while someone had an open container in the back seat.

Is It Illegal To Drink As A Passenger In A Vehicle In New Jersey?

So the short answer is no, but there's actually a little more to it than that which I found interesting.

According to New Jersey Criminal Law Attorney

A violation of the open container law (provided that there is no evidence to suggest alcohol consumption at the time of the traffic stop) is not considered a crime in the eyes of the State of New Jersey. It’s classified as a traffic violation, which means that while the charge will appear on a person’s driving record, it will not do so on a criminal record.


What Is The NJ Open Container Law?

It's a law that states any person in a vehicle, on public transportation, or in public to keep a container of alcohol closed and sealed.

Photo by Bobby Donald on Unsplash
Photo by Bobby Donald on Unsplash

Violating that law could cost you up to $500.

There are a few exceptions to this, however.

For example, if you're driving with an opened container of liquor but the cap is on, and it's in a location in your car where no one has access, then you're good, like in the back seat or the trunk.

Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash
Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

I can't tell you the amount of times my wife and I will meet friends for dinner, grab a half-drunk bottle of wine we want to finish at dinner and just keep it in the front with our stuff.

Other exceptions to the open container law include mobile homes and recreation vehicles.

What's truly crazy is that there are states where your passengers can in fact drink so long as they aren't driving!

More on that right here. 

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