Cocktails To Go Cannot Be Consumed in Cars in New Jersey

Posted by: Wiley Lavender on Friday, July 10, 2020

Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess any open or unsealed alcoholic beverage container in a car. "Open or unsealed" means a container with its original seal broken or a container such as a glass or cup. These laws apply to “cocktails-to-go” which Governor Murphy legalized on May 15, 2020.

Under the provisions of New Jersey Assembly Bill No. 3966, the holder of a craft distillery license can sell products for off-premises consumption:

(1) distilled alcoholic beverages that are manufactured on the licensed premises and mixed or blended with other alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages and sold in closed and sealed containers; and

(2) distilled alcoholic beverages that are manufactured on the licensed premises and sold in original containers and accompanied by one or more nonalcoholic beverages or food stuffs that may be combined by the consumer to prepare a mixed drink.

What is a Container?

The containers must have a tamper evident seal. They can be any size. However, if the container is not an original container, the maximum capacity is 16 fluid ounces.

The NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control defines a “closed and sealed container” as a container with a tamper-evident seal. This means it indicates whether a seal or closure has been interfered with or removed.

Examples of a tamper-evident seals include crown capped glass bottles, screw tops that break from a ring when opened, or heat-sealed closures over sealed caps. Further, acceptable containers include plastic beverage pouches, bottles, substantial or sturdy plastic containers and mason type jars. These jars must have a lid or screw cap sealed with tamper evident security tape or heat-sealed plastic film.

Examples of containers not permitted for off-premise consumption include disposable paper, plastic, or Styrofoam cups, or any cup or container with a lid, cap, or cover that has holes even if sealed over with tape or other materials.

The law further requires that all to-go alcoholic beverage containers must be labeled. Additionally, containers must have a label including the name of the cocktail and a notation that it is an alcoholic beverage. Handwritten labels are acceptable.

Follow the Law

Under this Bill, consumers of alcoholic beverages must follow all local laws, ordinances and rules banning consumption of alcohol in public. This includes sidewalks, beaches, parks, and cars.

To sum, you cannot possess an open or unsealed alcoholic beverage container in your car. It does not matter that these beverages are legal "cocktails-to-go".

The legal consequences arising from failing to obey cocktails-to-go laws are significant. Therefore, contact us for the advice and counsel required to address any violations of these laws.