A “dry town” prohibits the sale of alcohol within its borders. This means there are no liquor stores, package stores, or bars in these towns, but you can still consume alcohol – and you can still get arrested for DWI or other alcohol-related crimes in these towns. If you were arrested for drunk driving or another serious offense in a dry town in New Jersey, contact our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers today to schedule a free legal consultation. Read on to learn more about dry towns and what these rules mean in New Jersey.
Can You Drink in a Dry Town in NJ?
New Jersey’s dry town regulations make it illegal to sell alcohol in the town, but they don’t prevent you from drinking. Restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other establishments can’t sell alcohol or get a liquor license, but breweries and wineries may still be able to operate if they have a state license to produce alcohol. Some towns also allow these restaurants to be BYOB.
New Jersey has so many dry towns because of its history. Much of New Jersey was founded by Quakers and other religious groups that focused on temperance and saw drinking as dangerous and immoral. Today, so many of these dry towns in New Jersey remain “dry” because of a focus on a family atmosphere. Bars and alcohol might infringe on that, so towns like Ocean City stayed dry towns.
In these towns, it is still legal to own alcohol, bring alcohol into your home, bring a bottle of wine to a friend’s house, and to transport alcohol purchased outside the town. The main restriction for the general public is that you cannot buy alcohol there.
Are Alcohol Offenses Worse in Dry Towns?
New Jersey’s statewide alcohol laws do not change in dry towns. One might expect that laws against drunk driving or public drunkenness might be punished more harshly in dry towns, but this isn’t the case. In fact, many dry towns actually see an increased incidence of things like drunk driving and underage drinking. Our Atlantic City DWI lawyers explain.
New Jersey’s DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws are quite strict. “Pleading down” a DWI charge to reckless driving is typically not allowed in NJ, and every DWI offense comes with the potential of jail time and a driver’s license suspension. If you are an out-of-state driver arrested for DWI while on vacation in Jersey, you might need a local defense attorney to handle your case in New Jersey.
New Jersey has no laws against being drunk in public, which means it is legal to go outside after becoming drunk. This is legal even in dry towns. However, if your actions cause a problem or involve disturbing behavior, you might be arrested for disorderly conduct. Any other crimes you commit while intoxicated can also be charged. That means that if you start a fight, for example, you could be arrested for assault, and your intoxication will not be a defense to the crime.
Since dry towns have no access to alcohol, people seeking alcohol must go to nearby towns. This means that drivers may travel further to go to bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. When they come home, this means they could drive further and face an increased risk of being arrested for DWI. It is potentially for this reason that dry towns often see an increased rate of DWI compared to towns that do allow alcohol sales and bar patrons could walk home or take a much cheaper taxi or Uber.
Which Towns in NJ are “Dry” Towns?
New Jersey has over 30 dry towns across the state. Most of these towns are in South Jersey, including popular vacation destinations like Ocean City. Haddonfield, New Jersey, a predominately suburban town, is also a dry town. The dry towns in New Jersey are as follows:
- Audubon Park
- Cape May Point
- Delanco Township
- Downe Township
- Elk Township
- Far Hills
- Haddon Heights
- Harrison Township
- Island Heights
- Lawrence Township
- Lower Alloways Creek Township
- Mannington Township
- Maurice River Township
- Ocean City
- Ocean Grove
- Oldmans Township
- Port Republic
- Prospect Park
- Quinton Township
- Saddle River
- South Harrison Township
- Stow Creek Township
- Upper Deerfield Township
- Upper Pittsgrove Township
- Wildwood Crest
If you find yourself in a dry town, there’s nothing to worry about. Many of these towns are still popular vacation destinations, and the lack of alcohol sales might not make your vacation difficult. In any case, you can always consume alcohol in private or purchase liquor in another town to bring back with you. Some dry towns with breweries or wineries may even allow tastings since those kinds of liquor sales are licensed by the state instead of the local government.
Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
The Atlantic City defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent defendants accused of crimes like drunk driving and disorderly conduct in addition to other minor and serious offenses alike. Our lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your charges for drunk driving, underage drinking, or other alcohol offenses in a dry town. To schedule your free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.