Some of the most underestimated laws in New Jersey are those that deal with the consumption of alcohol by minors. Because it is frequently broken, it is sometimes not thought to be as serious as other types of crimes, but there are steep fines and penalties that can be associated with those who provide alcohol to minors or otherwise aid in their doing so. There are several major underage drinking statues in NJ, here’s what you need to know about each.
Drinking Underage: For a young person under the age of 21 who is found to have been purchasing, possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages can be charged with a disorderly persons offense. With this comes a fine of at least up to $500, and if it takes place in a car, the individual will have his or her driving privileges taken away for six months as well. This includes any drinking that takes place in a public area or school.
Supplying Alcohol to Minors: If someone is of legal age to purchase alcohol, but they do so with the intention of providing it to someone who is underage, they can land themselves in a lot of legal hot water. They can also be fined from between $500 to up to $1,000 and have to serve up to six months in jail. They will also face a mandatory suspension of a driver’s license for six months. So before you go out trying to help your teenage brother throw a house party, or want to be the cool uncle—think again about the consequences you will face legally on your own outside of any damage that may be done in the process to the person you are claiming to want to help.
Additional Statutes: There are multiple municipal ordinances in New Jersey which also deal with underage drinking. Some of these include making it illegal to even enter into a bar or liquor store with the intention of purchasing alcohol. It is illegal in certain ways both for underage people to be drinking in public spaces as well as in private residences and private property.
Reasons for these laws: While it may seem strict to many, there are multiple reasons why the possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal in New Jersey. These include the high frequency of drunk driving crashes involving teenagers too young to know better, as well as the extreme dangers of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.
Knowing your options: There are several key defenses that can be used when dealing with underage possession or consumption of alcohol, as well as for those charged with supplying the alcohol to an underage companion. While these offenses can theoretically be argued against individually, judges will give more consideration to those represented by an experienced attorney. I can also provide you with expert counsel about the law and your connection to it, as well as advise on your rights and how to approach the case moving forward as a whole. For a free consultation, call me, Robert DePersia today at 856-795-9688.