Consequences of Underage Alcohol Possession in NJ
According to New Jersey law, alcohol is a beverage that has at least .05% alcohol measured by volume and any beverage classified as an ale, distilled spirit, wine, and beer.
Age Limit to Be Recognized as a Minor in New Jersey
In New Jersey, and probably every state in the United States, a minor is considered to be a person who is under the age of majority, which is 18 years of age. Everyone who is 17 years of age or younger is considered to be a minor. For the purposes of alcohol, the legal age to drink is 21 years old in New Jersey. The minimum age requirement is due to the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which sets the uniform minimum age requirement throughout the entire United States of America.
What Does Underage Alcohol Consumption Entail?
It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in public spaces; however, it is not illegal federally or in New Jersey for persons under the age of 21 to consume alcohol on private property. Oftentimes, municipalities will pass borough ordinances that prohibit the consumption of alcohol by minors on private property.
Special Exceptions for Legal Underage Alcohol Possession in Monmouth County NJ
There are certain exceptions in New Jersey that allow for underage possession of alcohol. One of these exceptions includes a minor who calls 911 to summon medical assistance for another minor who is suffering from symptoms of alcohol consumption. Overall, three minors will be protected, including the caller, if they give their names to the dispatcher and stay with the person who needs medical assistance. They must also cooperate with law enforcement and medical staff that arrives to help the minor. It is important to note that the person in need of medical attention is also safe from all prosecution.
Another exception includes those in receipt of a special permit from the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control working at a hotel or restaurant. This also includes those issued the special permit for and in possession of alcohol for educational purposes working in the culinary field or hotel management.
Most of the exceptions to underage possession derive from three sources. The first is if they receive the alcohol with permission from a parent or adult family member. The second is if they possess the alcohol as part of their employment, and the third is if they possess the alcohol as part of an educational purpose.
Implications of Underage Drinking on a Criminal Record
The minor’s criminal record will depend largely on their age at the time of the offense. If they are under the age of 18 at the time of their offense, they may still receive a disorderly persons conviction, but they will be charged as a juvenile most likely. Juvenile convictions are usually sealed and often do not affect their adult criminal record. If the person is over the age of 18 but under the age of 21, they may be charged as an adult and convicted of a disorderly persons offense which will definitely affect their adult criminal record.
Legal Repercussions for Underage Alcohol Possession in NJ
For minors convicted of possessing alcohol, they can face the same fines as someone who is charged and convicted of any other disorderly persons offense. This means they are exposed to fines between $500 and $1000 in addition to a possible incarceration in the county jail for six months or 180 days. For this specific offense, they may also be required to attend a six-month treatment program to address any substance use disorder issues that may be prevalent.
If the person has a driver’s license, they can also be liable for their driver’s license to be suspended for up to six months. If they do not have a driver’s license, the judge may delay the minor’s ability to obtain a driver’s license.
Consult with Underage Alcohol Possession Attorneys Defending Minors in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
At Bronzino Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers are experienced in minor possession of alcohol cases, and we can prove to be extremely valuable when defending your son or daughter. We are not only experienced in what it takes to achieve the right result, but we understand how much a conviction can negatively impact your child’s life. It is our goal to show the state that your minor either is not guilty of underage drinking, alcohol possession, or that they made one bad choice and are not headed down the wrong path.
When the court considers the charges brought upon the minor, they look at the nature of the offense, the history of the minor’s interaction with the law, the testimony of the officers, the blood alcohol content, and other relevant factors. Our talented criminal defense attorneys can use the facts of the case, in addition to the minor’s character, in order to show the court and the officers that mistakes are often made when we are younger in age and less experienced. That does not make us bad people; it only means that we are learning the lessons life often provides. If your child has been charged with underage alcohol possession or consumption in South Jersey, such as in Manasquan, Belmar, Seaside Heights, Red Bank, Beach Haven, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Holmdel, Bradley Beach, Lavallette, and other Ocean and Monmouth County areas, contact our firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a cost-free initial consultation.