New law in New Jersey imposes stiffer price-gouging penalties

| 1/10/2008

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill into law Jan. 3 toughening penalties for fuel price gouging. It took effect immediately.

The new law, previously S383, fines fuel station operators $1,500 for increasing the price of fuel more than once in a 24-hour period. Repeat offenders would face a $3,000 fine.

Station operators also could have their fuel licenses suspended for up to 30 days for a first offense. Subsequent offenses could result in license revocation.

New Jersey law already allows the state to fine gougers $50 to $200 per occurrence. Since 1938, the law also has prohibited the price of fuel from being increased more than once in any 24-hour period.

Sen. Nicholas Sacco, D-North Bergen, said drivers in the state have been witness to how volatile fuel prices have become during the past few years. He pointed out that in any given week, pump prices can increase several cents a gallon every day.

“In this climate, it can be tempting for retailers to break the law and change prices more than once a day,” Sacco said in a written statement. “The new higher fines in this bill will make it less worthwhile for retailers to violate the law.”

The increased fines also will apply to stations that fail to publicly display the price of fuel or sell fuel at a different price than what is posted. Failure to display the price of fuel at each pump also is prohibited.

In addition, stations are forbidden from providing rebates, allowances, concessions or benefits either directly or indirectly to allow a person to obtain motor fuel below the posted price.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor