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Legal Q & A



Deborah M. Kole, League Staff Attorney
Deborah M. Kole
League Staff Attorney

Keg Registration and Low Speed Vehicle Rules

Q I am a council member in our municipality. We have a college in town, and between the college students and the many high school students in the community, we have a major problem with underage drinking. It was suggested at our last meeting that one way we could deal with this is through a keg registration ordinance. However, one of my colleagues said that we cannot enact such an ordinance. Is this true? If so, is there any legislation we can pass to alleviate the problem of underage drinking on private property?

A On October 2, 2007, the Director of the State Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), in response to a request for an Advisory Opinion by a number of municipalities, ruled that municipalities cannot enact their own keg registration ordinances. The Opinion stated that such a requirement would have to be enacted on a statewide basis by the Legislature to ensure uniformity of enforcement. This ruling renders unenforceable keg registration ordinances that have already been passed by municipalities.

The ABC cited several specific problems with allowing such ordinances. First, a person who purchases a keg in one municipality with no registration requirement could be penalized in a community that has the requirement. In such a situation, the ordinances may have the indirect result of imposing one community’s law on its neighboring community. Furthermore, some municipalities provide for criminal penalties in these ordinances, whereas the ABC structure for the regulation of alcoholic beverages provides for civil penalties.

The Opinion made it quite clear, however, that even if specific problems with the ordinances were solved by redrafting, local keg registration ordinances cannot stand because the subject matter requires statewide regulation.

Under NJSA 40:48-1.2, however, the municipality does have the power to pass an ordinance “..making it unlawful for any person under the legal age (to), without legal authority, knowingly possess or knowingly consume an alcoholic beverage on private property.” The fine for a first offense shall be $250, and $350 for subsequent offenses under this ordinance, and the ordinance shall also let the court suspend or postpone the individual’s driving license/privileges.
 

Q What are the rules concerning Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs) in New Jersey?

A Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) must be titled and registered to be driven on certain New Jersey roadways. The vehicles must also be properly insured, but are not subject to regular motor vehicle inspection. LSVs are sales tax exempt. Municipalities may ban these vehicles on all their roads by ordinance under this new law.

A LSV is a four-wheeled vehicle, as defined in the federal regulations at 49 CFR s. 571.3(b), whose attainable speed is more than 20 miles per hour and no more than 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface. The vehicle cannot be powered by gas or diesel fuel and must comply with federal safety standards as noted in 49 CFR s. 571.500.

The following are some general guidelines for LSVs:

• LSVs may not be driven on roadways with speed limits that exceed 25 mph. In limited cases, if deemed appropriate by a municipality or county or DOT, LSVs may be permitted on roadways with speed limits that do not exceed 35 mph.

• LSV operators should watch for and abide by road signs prohibiting use even on lower speed roads.

• LSVs may not be modified golf carts.

• An LSV must have a 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number.

• Child restraints in LSVs must meet the same standards as child restraints used in passenger vehicles.

• LSVs must be operated by a person with a valid driver license only (no permits, provisional or suspended licenses).

• Properly titled, registered and insured LSVs may be leased or rented for temporary use.

• An LSV may be registered in the name of an individual, business or government entity, but may not be used as a commercial vehicle.

• LSVs and their owners/operators are subject to the same motor vehicle violations as other vehicles and drivers except for the regular inspection requirements.

This column is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice.

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