N.J. Gas Stations Charged After Violations

Newark, N.J., New Jersey became the first state to take legal action in response to steeply inflated gas prices when state attorney general Peter C. Harvey alleged in court that 20 N.J. gas stations and their oil suppliers violated a state law that forbids multiple price increases in a single day.

Harvey charged that several stations hiked their prices as many as four or five times in one day as Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the oil industry. According to the report, some stations even charged credit-card users more than the receipt amounts; others secretly substituted regular gas for premium.

Many of the accused station owners said that they were unaware of the law against price increases, while others defended their actions as necessary in the face of rising wholesale prices.

New Jersey remains the only state with a law against multiple daily increases in gas prices. The New York Times reports that the law was put in place in 1938 to protect small operators from larger companies during price wars.

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