Halloween can be a time for pranksters to get their fix by participating in mischievous activities. The festivities, alcohol and party mentality frequently conspire to cause people to behave in ways that do not reflect their best judgment. While it is meant to be a night filled with fun, let it just be that and nothing more. Keep these laws in NJ in mind when you celebrate Halloween this year:
Dram Shop Act/Social Host Liability
New Jersey's statute holds social hosts who provide alcohol (including self-service by guests) liable through the Dram Shop Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:22A-2) for third-party injuries caused by a guest who is “visibly intoxicated” where “the injuries are the result of negligent operation of a vehicle by the guest.”
Providing Alcohol to Minors
Providing alcohol to minors is a criminal offense (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17) in New Jersey. Anyone who purposely or knowingly offers or makes an alcoholic beverage available to a minor is considered a disorderly person.
In New Jersey, public intoxication is a fairly common offense. It is not considered a crime in New Jersey, but it is against the law to create an issue, problem or other disturbance in public while you are under the influence of alcohol. Those who are drunk in public may be taken into protective custody by police. (N.J.S.A. 26:2B-8, 26:2B-16.)
Possession of Open Alcoholic Container
It is illegal in New Jersey to have an open container of alcohol in an automobile (N.J.S.A. 39:4-51A). Open bottles of alcohol may be transported in the trunk of a car, and consumption of alcohol on a bus, train, taxi, and limousine is permitted. It is also important to note that it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol on public streets, sidewalks or in parks.
Smoking in Public
New Jersey also has a law that criminalizes smoking (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-13.) on a bus or on any other means of public transit, or smoking in any public place where it is prohibited, whether by municipal law, or by the owner, so long as the smoking ban is posted.
Disturbing the Peace
To be convicted of New Jersey disorderly conduct (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2) the person must engage in fighting, threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior or create a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by an act which serves no legitimate purpose. Some charges of disorderly conduct, also known as “disturbing the peace,” or “breach of the peace” may seem trivial, such as blocking a road, falsely reporting a fire, or even using loud and offensive language in public, but being convicted of any crime can have serious consequences. You might want to think again next time you pick a fight at the bar.
Being charged with lewdness (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4B) in New Jersey is no laughing matter. Public urination and public nudity are examples of behavior that can lead to lewdness charges.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Any criminal conviction can have serious and lasting consequences and the best way to protect yourself and present a strong defense is to talk to an experienced attorney. The criminal defense law firm of Villani & Deluca, P.C. is located in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Our criminal defense attorneys have a long, proven track record of successfully defending clients in Monmouth County and Ocean County, New Jersey. So, fear not this Halloween and give us a call at (732) 709-7757 for a free consultation.
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