Sacco Measure To Increase Gas Retailer Fines Passes Assembly Committee

TRENTON – The Assembly Transportation and Public Works Committee passed legislation today sponsored by Senator Nicholas Sacco that would increase fines levied against gas station operators for violating state laws regulating the sale of gasoline.

“New Jersey drivers have almost become accustomed to how volatile gas prices can be,” said Senator Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson and Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “The past few weeks have seen another spike in prices and in this climate, it can be tempting for retailers to change prices more than once a day. The new higher fines in this bill will make it less worthwhile for retailers to violate the law.”

Senator Sacco’s bill, S-383, would amend current law to increase the maximum fine on a motor fuels retailer from $200 to $1,500 for a first offense and $3,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition to the monetary penalty, a retailer’s license would be suspended for between 5 and 30 days for a first offense and revoked upon a second offense.

“New Jersey residents depend on their cars and we must make sure that price-gouging is kept to a minimum,” added Senator Sacco, who is the chair of the Transportation Committee. “Past reports of price-gouging across the State have shown that the fines, as they currently stand, are not an effective enough deterrent. We expect that these higher fines and license suspensions will be sufficient to keep the less honest retailers in check in the future.”

Besides changing the price of motor fuels more than once in a 24-hour period, the new fines would apply to the following violations:

* failure to publicly display the price of motor fuel or selling fuel at a different price than that which is posted.

* not displaying and maintaining the price of the fuel at each pump from which it is being sold.

* not properly branding dispensing and storage equipment.

* using lotteries, wheels of fortune, punch boards or other games of chance in connection with the sale of motor fuel.

* providing rebates, allowances, concessions, or benefits either directly or indirectly as to permit a person to obtain motor fuel below the posted price.

The bill passed the Committee today by a vote of 11-0. It now awaits action by the full Assembly.

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