Although the drinking age is 21 all across the country, many people do not wait until they turn 21 to start drinking. When an underage person is caught drinking, they can be charged with a crime. Although underage drinking is common, both the kids and those who supplied them with alcohol can face serious penalties.
WHAT IS UNDERAGE DRINKING?
New Jersey law prohibits anyone under 21 from purchasing, drinking, or possessing an alcoholic beverage in a public place, motor vehicle, or school. This means that it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to possess even unopened drinks. Adults who knowingly provide alcohol to underage people can also be charged with a crime.
PENALTIES FOR UNDERAGE DRINKING
Underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense that carries a fine of $500-$1,000 and can lead to up to 6 months in jail. Although jail time is unlikely, anyone convicted of underage drinking is guaranteed at least $500 in fines. Additionally, anyone over 18 but under 21 will have a criminal record, which makes it harder to find work, housing, and financial aid. Even those under 18 will end up with a juvenile record, which can have an impact on work or college admissions. Some colleges kick students out or revoke their scholarships over underage drinking convictions.
UNDERAGE DRINKING DEFENSES
The law against underage drinking has a few exceptions that can be used as defenses. The law does not prohibit underage drinking on private property with parental consent. People under 21 are allowed to serve alcohol as part of their job. The law also contains a good samaritan exception that protects underage drinkers who call 911 to get medical help for another. As always, the best defense depends on the facts of your case. It may be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser offense and avoid a criminal conviction.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I OR MY CHILD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH UNDERAGE DRINKING?
If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking, contact Rosenblum Law for a free consultation today. We’ll answer your questions, provide you with a fee quote so you’ll know what representation will cost, and walk you through the process from beginning to end.