New Jersey Attorneys Offer Counsel for Open Container Violations

Bergen County DWI defense lawyers challenge illegal searches
In New Jersey, as with many other states, it is illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of your car. The fine for a first offense is $200, and a second offense is punishable by a fine of $250 or 10 days of community service. If law enforcement stopped you and discovered an open container, someone in the car is going to be charged. It doesn’t matter if the container belonged to the driver or a passenger; it doesn’t matter if no one consumed alcohol from the container in the car. All that matters is that law enforcement discovered the container during a legal search of the vehicle. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg, we vigorously defend our clients by challenging police procedures on constitutional grounds, forcing the state to prove that the search was lawful.

How can a driver or passenger in NJ legally transport open containers?
New Jersey law prohibits possession of alcoholic beverage containers with the original seal broken and glasses or cups containing alcohol in the passenger compartment of a car. Safe areas of the car include the:

Space behind the last seat in a trunk-less vehicle
Passenger area of a chartered limousine or bus
Living quarters of a motor-home
Violations result in fines but no license suspension. You should ask your insurance carrier about its policy regarding open container violations.

Restrictions on searches of automobiles in New Jersey
Law enforcement must discover the container during a legal search that follows a legal traffic stop. Examples include:

The officer asks for your license and registration. Looking through the driver’s-side window, the officer sees a half-consumed bottle of wine standing in your cup holder.
You consent to a field sobriety test. An officer pats you down prior to initiating the test and discovers a hip flask.
After you submit to a preliminary breath test, the officer decides to arrest you for DWI. Standing outside your car, the officer shines a flashlight into the passenger compartment and discovers a can of beer on the floor of the back seat.
After finding probable cause to arrest you for DWI, the officer requests a warrant to search the car and finds a partially consumed bottle of alcohol under the driver’s seat.
However, the discovery of an open container may be void if:

The officer made a traffic stop for a discriminatory purpose, such as profiling
The officer made an intrusive search of the vehicle without a warrant. This would include ordering you out of the car and immediately rummaging through the passenger compartment, rather than conducting a field sobriety test.
Our attorneys are experienced with challenging police procedures. We regularly use police dash-cam videos and witness-produced cell phone videos to point out irregularities that raise questions regarding the constitutionality of traffic stops and vehicle searches.


Bergen County Attorneys Defend Drivers with Racing on Highway Tickets

Five-point violations carry severe consequences in New Jersey
Racing on the highway is more than a traffic violation in our state; it is a disorderly persons offense, New Jersey’s equivalent of a misdemeanor crime. If you’ve been cited for racing, you need more than a traffic ticket lawyer; you need a criminal defense attorney with municipal court experience. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg, our attorneys are prepared to go to court, challenge the state’s evidence, cross-examine witnesses and present compelling arguments in favor of our clients.

Harsh penalties and numerous add-ons for highway racing tickets
Statutes N.J.S.A. 39:4-52 and 39:5C-1 pertain to highway racing. For a conviction, a prosecutor must prove that a person was speeding on a public highway for the purposes a bet, to race against another motor vehicle or to beat a speed record. Any direct involvement, even if you were not one of the drivers, could also earn you a conviction.

Under these terms, a driver, organizer or spectator can be charged and hit with these penalties:

A fine ranging from $25 to $100 for a first offense
A fine ranging from $100 to $200 for a subsequent offense
These penalties may seem slight, until you consider the additional possible consequences:

The driver may be imprisoned for up to 90 days.
Racing is a five-point violation.
Racing usually invites a speeding ticket with fines and an additional two to five points.
Speeding fines are doubled anywhere the speed limit is 65 mph.
Racing is inherently unsafe, so a driver can face charges of careless driving (two points), reckless driving (five points) or driving in an unsafe manner (four points).
When the final tally comes in, your highway racing conviction can cost thousands of dollars in fines, fees, surcharges and increased insurance premiums, in addition to jail time and a license suspension. Getting a dismissal or a reduction of charges and penalties is much more complicated than fighting a speeding ticket and requires the skill of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.


Tips for Avoiding a License Suspension in New Jersey

Bergen County attorneys counsel drivers in jeopardy of losing their driving privileges
For most Bergen County residents, driving privileges are essential. If you’ve accumulated points on your license and fear that another infraction could result in a license suspension, the Law Offices of Richard S. Greenberg is here to help. Our defense attorneys have vast experience fighting traffic violations to get charges reduced or dismissed. We’ve helped numerous drivers preserve their driving privileges, and we can help you too.

What to do if you’re on the brink of a license suspension in New Jersey
In New Jersey, drivers who accumulate 12 points or more on their licenses face a suspension and a $100 restoration fee. If you’re approaching that limit, here are some things you can do:

Enroll in a defensive driving program — Once every five years you may use this option to have two points deducted. You may also pick up some tips for avoiding future infractions.
Take a driver improvement course — You can use this option to deduct three points every two years.
Drive carefully — This should be obvious, but if you’re in danger of losing your license, you’ve developed some bad habits that lead to driving mistakes. Take time to reflect on the contributing factors that led to your poor decisions. Were you driving angry? Running late? Engaged in animated discussion with passengers or distracted by a cell phone? If you can eliminate pressures and distractions, you can better concentrate on safe driving. Plus, for every year you drive without accumulating points, New Jersey deducts three points from your record.
Fight all subsequent moving violations — If you’re charged again with a penalty-point traffic offense, you have no choice but to fight the ticket and challenge the state to make its case against you. But don’t go to court alone. You’ve got too much riding on the outcome to rely on anything less than an experienced traffic offense attorney.