A person pumping gas at a gas station
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Drivers Might Be Able To Pump Their Own Gas in New Jersey After More Than 70 Years

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Mar. 2 2022, Published 6:10 a.m. ET

New Jersey is the only U.S. state that doesn’t allow drivers to pump their own gas. That distinction, however, might be close to ending. There's been a new proposal due to rising inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. How could New Jersey’s law on pumping your own gas be updated?

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The Garden State has been debating the issue for a long time now—73 years, to be exact, which is when the state banned people from pumping their own gas.

Drivers might be able to pump their own gas in New Jersey

On March 1, a bipartisan collection of legislators introduced a bill, the Motorist Fueling Choice and Convenience Act, which would allow N.J. stations to have self-service pumps. State assemblyman Ned Thomson (R-Monmouth), a sponsor of the proposal, said, “Motorists in every other state are able to pump their own gas, and if a consumer wants to choose to not wait for an attendant, that choice should not be denied to them by state law.”

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The state might go for a hybrid model, which will give consumers the option to do what they prefer. Under the measure, stations would be permitted to offer self-serve, full-serve, or a combination. However, stations with more than four pumps would be required to keep a full-service option between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

gas station
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Whereas the debate has been ongoing for years, this time, gas retailers are taking a different stance and could change the whole equation. The law could even change gas prices in the state. According to Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store, and Gas Automotive Association, gas could be 23 cents cheaper.

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Why can’t you pump your own gas?

New Jersey banned self-serve gas in 1949 with the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, citing fire hazards. However, Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine argued that the safety concerns were a cover-up to protect the interests of some who were undercut by enterprising business owners offering self-serve gas.

Since then, the law has been challenged several times. By the 1970s, however, every U.S. state had overturned its self-serve gas bans but New Jersey.

What happens if you pump your own gas?

Under New Jersey's Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, penalties range from $50 to $250 fine for the first offense and should not exceed $500 for each subsequent offense. Gas station owners may also be subject to a penalty if an inspector witnesses a customer pumping gas at their station.

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