There is probably no other place in the United States that has all of the features of Atlantic City. Atlantic City has a combination of beautiful beaches and boardwalk, world-class casinos, and around the clock entertainment that is hard to find anywhere in the world. Many people compare Atlantic City to Las Vegas and while this may be a good comparison in terms of the excitement there are some important differences that you should be aware of. Many people will go to Atlantic City and think that they can walk from casino to casino or from beach bar to beach bar with their glass of alcohol. Some of these people are surprised when they are stopped by a police officer and given a ticket for having an open container out in public.
If you or your child are facing charges for having an open container of alcohol on the boardwalk, or out in public in Atlantic City or for any other alcohol-related offense the experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys of The Law Firm of John J. Zarych can fight to protect you, your son or daughter from the full extent of penalties authorized under New Jersey State Law. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation for an open container offense, call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.
Can You Walk Around with Open Containers of Alcohol?
While you may enjoy many of the amenities that the casinos and hotels have to offer you should be aware that you are generally not allowed to walk on the boardwalk or through the streets of Atlantic City with open containers of alcohol. While this is a common and often celebrated practice in Las Vegas it is a crime in New Jersey and in Atlantic City to do so.
Atlantic City officials have created an ordinance that makes it an offense to be in public with an open container of alcohol. Specifically, Chapter 79 Section 79-20 of the Atlantic City Code provides that:
No person shall consume, carry in an open container or carry in an opened or closed container exposed to public view any alcoholic beverage:
(1) On any sidewalk, boardwalk, street, avenue, highway, park, public parking facility or beach unless permitted by permit/license issued in accordance with New Jersey law and special events permit issued by the mayor or lease authorized by Council, which lease shall provide for insurance and indemnification
This means that despite the easy access to alcohol at casinos and beach bars with somewhat unclear boundary lines you are not allowed to walk around in public with an open container of alcohol.
What are the Penalties for Having an Open Container of Alcohol?
While the penalties for having an open container of alcohol can vary depending on where you are and if you are also drunk when the police officer issues a ticket, there are limits to the amount that you can be charged with. Under the Atlantic City Code: Any person who violated the open container provision of their code could be subjected to a fine of up to $2,000 or even be sentenced to a stay at the county jail of up to 90 days.
What Happens at Municipal Court?
While Municipal Courts are lower courts in New Jersey that handle lower level crimes, the case is still heard before a judge who will have a considerable amount of discretion to impose fines and even jail time depending on the facts of your case. It is important to understand that Municipal Ordinances such as Atlantic City’s are generally enforceable.
Specifically, Title 40 of the New Jersey Statutes specifies certain powers of municipalities. Municipalities are authorized to, and Atlantic City has, enact ordinances making it unlawful for a person to consume, carry in an open container or carry in an opened or closed container exposed to public view any alcoholic beverage.
Cases heard in municipal court are divided into four categories offenses charged within the City of Atlantic City:
- Violations of motor vehicle and traffic laws
- Violations of disorderly and petty disorderly persons offenses (criminal matter which may result in fines or jail)
- Violations of municipal ordinances (local laws)
- Violation of Fish and Game laws, Weights and Measures, SPCA, and Boating Regulations.
More serious offenses, known as indictable offenses, are sent to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office. The County Prosecutor decides whether to present the case to a Grand Jury or to return the case to the municipal court as a less serious offense (a downgrade).
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Handle an Array of Criminal Charges in Atlantic City
The criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are available to address a number of your criminal defense concerns. We are proud to represent individuals charged with serious crimes, known as indictable offenses or misdemeanors, in New Jersey Superior Court. We are also proud to represent individuals charged with lesser offenses in the relevant municipal court.