Underage Drinking in New Jersey

Underage Drinking in New Jersey

According to statistics complied by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, underage drinking cost the citizens of New Jersey 1.5 billion dollars in 2010, of which 600 million dollars was spend exclusively on medical care. In 2009, New Jersey students in grades 9-12 reported: 74.6% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life; 18.0% had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13; 45.2% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion in the past 30 days and 26.7% had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) in the past 30 days. Underage New Jersey residents consumed 18.1% of all alcohol sold is New Jersey in 2009, ranking New Jersey as the 17th highest state for underage drinking.

The Consequences of Underage Drinking

In New Jersey during 2009 an estimated 21 traffic fatalities and 2,183 nonfatal traffic injuries were attributable to underage drunk drivers. Other harms associated with underage drinking are an estimated 39 homicides, 16,200 nonfatal violent crimes including rape, robbery and assault, and 35,500 property crimes including burglary and car theft.

New Jersey’s Underage Drinking Laws

Under age drinking is codified in title 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. Under age drinking is prohibited on all public property such as parking lots and sports fields, schools, all school-owned property, and in all motor vehicles, regardless of whether they are running at the time or not. Juveniles caught with alcohol in a vehicle are subject in violation of the law even if the alcohol is unopened.

New Jersey law prohibits an underage person from purchasing alcohol, misrepresenting their age in order to buy alcohol, or getting a legal-aged individual to purchase alcohol for them. Those who buy alcohol fore minors can be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The State of New Jersey has not criminalized underage drinking on private property. That said, most of New Jersey’s local municipalities have enacted laws prohibiting underage drinking on private property such as in a backyard at a barbecue.

Penalties for Underage Drinking in New Jersey

A conviction for underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense, and a fine not less than $500.00. The law permits penalties up to six (6) months of jail time, and up to $1000.00 in fines.

If the underage drinking offense is committed in a vehicle, in addition to the usual penalties, the defendant’s driving privilege may be suspended or postponed for six (6) months.

A conviction for underage drinking goes on your permanent criminal record and will appear on a criminal background check performed by educational institutions and employers.  If your son or daughter has been charged with underage drinking in Burlington County New Jersey, you should speak with an experienced Burlington County Juvenile Lawyer to discuss your child’s case.