While it is illegal for a person under age 21 to purchase or consume an alcoholic beverage on a licensed premises such as a restaurant or bar, New Jersey state law makes a couple of exceptions with regard to legal drinking age. Different municipalities have different ordinances, but generally a person younger than 21 can legally consume alcohol at home under the supervision of his or her parent, or the young person can consume alcohol during a religious ceremony.
However, a parent may not supply alcohol to another person’s underage child, and parents can be charged criminally if they provide alcohol to an underage drinker who consequently injures or kills another person.
Each year in New Jersey, police arrest parents on charges of allowing underage drinking. A parent doesn’t have to be home while the drinking occurs to be arrested for this offense. If authorities suspect that a parent who isn’t home has supplied underage drinkers with alcohol, then the parent could be arrested.
Some communities and school districts in New Jersey have organized coalitions in connection with a nationwide movement called the Safe Homes Pledge. Parents who sign the pledge agree to provide adult supervision at home parties, keep prescription drugs out of kids’ hands, and not serve alcohol to underage guests.
You can learn more about the pledge here.
For more on protecting the well-being of kids who have been charged with underage drinking, please see our juvenile crimes overview.