Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in New Jersey

New Jersey has numerous vehicle-related laws specific to protecting and improving the environment such as emissions test requirements (and exemptions for diesel-powered and electric vehicles), idling restrictions, fee assessments for gas guzzling vehicles, tunnel and bridge restrictions, low-speed vehicle regulations, and more. Read on for more on New Jersey's green vehicle laws and regulations.

New Jersey Vehicle Emissions Tests

New Jersey requires routine inspections, which only entail an emissions test. Unless your vehicle is exempt (see list below), you must take your vehicle to an inspection facility by the due date on your windshield sticker. Don't expect a reminder notice from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC); The agency leaves it up to you to remember.

If your vehicle requires an emissions test, find the nearest inspection station with the locator widget at the bottom of this page. To learn about the inspection process and requirements, check out our page on NJ emissions testing.

Emissions Test Exemptions for Fuel-Efficient Cars

New Jersey exempts the following fuel-efficient vehicles from emissions tests:

  • Vehicles fueled 100% by electricity (EV).
  • Diesel-powered vehicles* that are either:
    • Required to be owner- or lessee-inspected and have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,501 pounds to 17,999.
    • Model-year 1996 and older and also plated passenger, not for profit, governmental, commuter van, farmer or farm truck (not including buses).
    • Bearing a GVWR 8,501 to 17,999 lbs. and also plated passenger, not for profit, governmental, commuter van, farmer or farm truck (not including buses).

*NJ requires an annual smoke emissions test for all heavy-duty diesel vehicles with a GVWR of 18,000 lbs. or more.

Emissions test exemptions are just one perk of going green. For more on time- and money-saving bonuses, check out our page on eco-friendly driver incentives. To see the full list of vehicles exempt from inspection, consult the New Jersey MVC.

New Vehicle Fee and Exemptions

New Jersey charges an additional fee for buying or leasing a new passenger vehicle that either:

  • Has a 19 MPG (miles per gallon) or less Environmental Protection Administration average fuel efficiency rating.
  • Has a sale or lease price* of $45,000 or more (*prior to any rebate or trade-in that drops the price below $45,000)—unless it either:
    • Has a 40 MPG or higher EPA average fuel efficiency rating.
    • Qualifies as a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV).

You must pay this fee to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission whether you lease or buy your new automobile either in New Jersey or beyond state lines. Calculate it by multiplying the sales or lease price (before any rebate or trade-in credits) by 0.4%. For example, the fee for a new car costing $45,000 is $1,800.

Keep in mind this fee is in addition to what you'll pay to register your vehicle in NJ, and must be separately listed on your bill, receipt, or invoice by the seller. However, the fee is not subject to retail sales tax.

To get the specifics, including where to pay the fee, what to do when buying an out-of-state vehicle, and what qualifies as a ZEV, refer to New Jersey Permanent Statutes 39:3-8.4.

New Jersey Vehicle Idling Restrictions

NJ's idling restrictions vary depending on whether the vehicle is powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. Read on for specifics.

Gasoline-Powered Motor Vehicles

If your gasoline-powered vehicle is not in motion, New Jersey prohibits it from idling for more than 3 consecutive minutes. A few exceptions include:

  • Idling in traffic or while waiting in a line of motor vehicles (school buses excluded).
  • Vehicles with a primary or secondary power source not made for propulsion, such as those that operate lift gate pumps and control car temperature (excluding heating or air conditioning the passenger compartment).
  • Undergoing or (waiting to undergo) state or federal inspection.

Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicles

As with gas-powered vehicles, New Jersey also prohibits diesel-powered vehicles from idling for more than 3 consecutive minutes (when not in motion). However, you can get around this provision when:

  • The ambient temperature falls under 25º Fahrenheit and you've stopped your vehicle for 3 hours or more. Under these circumstances, it may idle for up to 15 consecutive minutes.
  • You are actively picking up or dropping off passengers in a diesel bus. Under these circumstances, it may idle for 15 consecutive minutes in a period of 60 minutes.

There are numerous exceptions. Some include when your vehicle is:

  • Stuck in traffic that renders it intermittently motionless.
  • Actively performing emergency services (fire, police, public utility, military tactical, and snow removal vehicles, to name a few).
  • Is actively being repaired or serviced (given that running the engine is necessary).
  • Undergoing or (waiting to undergo) state or federal inspection.

For a full list of exceptions, and more info specific to diesel-powered vehicle idling, consult New Jersey Administrative Code 7:27-14.3.

Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) Requirements and Restrictions

LSV Operating Requirements

New Jersey requires low-speed vehicles to be:

Besides not having to get your LSV inspected, you must abide by all other NJ traffic laws. For more guidelines and additional info on titling and registering, license plates, insurance requirements, and federal and state requirements, consult the MVC's Low Speed Vehicles page.

LSV Operating Restrictions

New Jersey permits low-speed vehicles on local roads with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH (miles per hour) or fewer. However, if a municipality, county, or Department of Transportation deems it safe, you can drive an LSV on roads that do not exceed 35 MPH. Keep in mind, there are even more LSV driving regulations you can access online.

What is a Low-Speed Vehicle

New Jersey defines a low-speed vehicle as:

Tunnel and Bridge Laws for Truckers

Truckers driving in New Jersey must follow certain laws when their vehicles are powered by alternative fuels. Read the following for more on restrictions and allowances regarding the tunnels and lower level of the George Washington Bridge. Consult the Truckers' Resources page for more alternative fuel vehicle info.

Tunnel and Bridge Restrictions

The government prohibits the following vehicles from traveling through the tunnels and the lower level of the George Washington Bridge:

  • Vehicles that use compressed flammable gases—with the exception of compressed natural gases (used to fuel heaters or refrigeration elements) such as:
    • Propane.
    • Butane
    • Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
    • Acetylene.
  • Vehicles that use anything other than the following to power their propulsion engines:
    • Gasoline.
    • Gasohol.
    • Diesel fuel.
    • Methanol.
    • Kerosene.
    • Compressed natural gas (CNG).
    • Liquefied natural gas (LNG).
    • Liquefied petroleum gas.

Tunnel and Bridge Allowances

If your alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) runs on LPG, LNG, or CNG, you may use the tunnels and lower level of the George Washington Bridge as long as the vehicle has:

  • A manufacturer-installed dedicated alternate fuel system, or
  • A properly converted alternate fuel system.
  • An alternate fuel system compliant with applicable federal regulations including 40CFR85, 86, and 600; Consult the Traffic Rules and Regulations published by the Port Authority of NY & NJ for full regulation details.
  • Restricted fuel capacity (detailed in the Green Book).
  • Markings and symbols that identify the alternate-fuel system (as required by law).

NJ Aftermarket Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions

If you have converted your vehicle to run on more efficient energy, it might have to meet certain requirements for New Jersey to classify it as an aftermarket alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) conversion.

What Qualifies as an Aftermarket AFV Conversion?

New Jersey classifies conventional original equipment manufacturer vehicles converted to operate on the following as alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) conversions:

  • Propane.
  • Natural gas.
  • Methane.
  • Ethanol.
  • Electricity.

Requirements for Aftermarket AFV Conversions

If your vehicle falls under the definition above, it must meet aftermarket AFV conversion standards of either:

For specifics, refer to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

Transportation & Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States

New Jersey is one of 12 participating states of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI). This collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions aims to grow the clean energy economy, shrink oil dependence, and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. As an eco-friendly driver, you might be interested in TCI's efforts to enhance the environment.

Keep Up with Current New Jersey Green Vehicle Laws

New Jersey has set two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets to stabilize GHG emissions to:

  • 1990 levels by the year 2020.
  • 80% below 2006 levels by the year 2050.

To reach these goals, NJ will likely continue evolving legislation and money-saving green driver incentives designed to entice residents to adopt eco-friendly driving habits. Keep up with the latest NJ green vehicle laws by bookmarking this page, and consulting your local New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Find a Nearby New Jersey Emissions Testing Station

Locate the closest NJ smog and emissions testing station with the widget below:

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