It is well-known that the legal drinking age in New Jersey – and every other state in the U.S. – is 21 years of age. Drinking or possessing alcohol under the age of 21 can result in serious consequences with the law. Many high school and younger college students ignore these potential consequences and drink on a regular basis, especially at parties for special events such as prom and graduation.
One recent after-prom party in New Jersey ended badly for many students. Police responded to a noise complaint call and found dozens of teenagers partying after their Thursday night high school prom. The house, which was rented, contained at least 52 bottles of hard liquor and three kegs of beer with no adults in sight.
While the 17 to 19-year-old students probably thought that throwing a party after their prom was no big deal, 34 of those students found themselves in handcuffs and then in jail after they were arrested. They were issued summons to come to court to face charges of underage drinking.
Penalties for Underage Drinking in NJ
Anyone under 21 who possesses alcohol may be charged with underage drinking. The only exceptions to this rule are if the underage person is drinking at home and under parental supervision or if it is part of a religious ceremony.
A charge of underage drinking, which is a disorderly persons offense, can result from any of the following acts:
- Trying to purchase or purchasing alcohol
- Using a fake ID or trying to get an adult to purchase alcohol
- Having alcohol on public property (and private property in most municipalities)
- Having alcohol – even unopened – in a motor vehicle
If you or your child is convicted of underage drinking, the potential penalties include:
- Fines from $500 to $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
- Suspension of a driver’s license if it took place in a vehicle
- Criminal conviction on your permanent record
While most underage drinking offenders do not end up behind bars, the fines can be costly and the conviction can cause difficulties with educational institutions, prospective employers, and more for years to come.
Call 732-662-7658 today for a free consultation
The Law Offices of Leon Matchin represents people of all ages facing criminal charges, including underage drinking. We will work to minimize or avoid the consequences of an underage drinking charge and will protect your rights throughout the criminal process. Please contact our criminal defense lawyer for more information today.