TRENTON – The Senate Transportation Committee passed legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas Sacco that would increase fines levied against gas station operators for violating state laws regulating the sale of gasoline.
“With gas prices being as volatile as they have been over the past few years, it is often tempting for retailers to suddenly change prices in order to make a few more bucks,” said Senator Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson. “It’s illegal to change prices more than once every 24 hours and we need to make the fines severe enough that it’s not worth it 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 is a state dominated by commuters and the skyrocketing gas prices we’ve seen have particularly hit them hard,” added Senator Sacco, who is the chair of the Transportation Committee. “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.
selling fuel at a price that is less than what the retailer paid for it plus all selling expenses.
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 by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for its approval.