Ocean City Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer

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    Underage drinking has been a constant problem and a growing concern for towns all across the State. Although Ocean City police officers continually monitor underage drinking, it does not seem to deter everyone. according to the 2013 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, 316,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 20-years-old used alcohol within a one-month period. Ocean City officials and police have implemented a zero tolerance policy for drinking underage and issue hundreds of citations every year. Those who are just on the verge of adulthood don’t need to start with a criminal record, and if you or someone you know has been charged with any underage alcohol-related offense, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately.

    If you or your child has been charged with any underage alcohol-related offense, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Underage drinking can be a serious criminal charge that can affect your future or your child’s future. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation for an underage drinking arrest or another alcohol-related offense, call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.

    Ocean City Underage Drinking Laws

    Ocean City New Jersey is a dry town meaning that they do not allow the purchase of alcohol within city limits.  Therefore, unlike many other surrounding towns and municipalities, their municipal code does not specifically address underage drinking. However, in the absence of any local law, a state law can be used to prosecute and convict a person of an offense such as underage drinking. New Jersey has long established that it is illegal for a person who is under the age of 21 to purchase and consume alcohol, with only some minor exemptions. Title 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice specifically addresses underage drinking. Specifically, this section provides:

    Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

    In addition, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 also addresses specific underage drinking offenses that occur in motor vehicles. Notably, an underage possession of alcohol violation can occur in a motor vehicle even if the alcohol has never been opened. In these cases, the court will impose a period of driver’s license suspension in addition to the other penalties associated with the sentence. If you currently have a driver’s license, your driving privileges will be suspended for a period of 6 months. If you have yet to receive your license because you are under the age of 17, the period of restricted driving privileges will act as a postponement, requiring you to wait an additional 6 months after you turn 17 to receive your New Jersey driver’s license.

    These are not the only laws that are applicable to those who are under the age of 21 in reference to alcohol. New Jersey lawmakers have also provided that it is a disorderly persons offense for a person to possess a fake identification, to misrepresent their age in order to purchase alcohol, convince a person over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol on their behalf, or misrepresent their age to a police officer in connection with underage drinking.

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    What are the Consequences for Underage Drinking in Ocean City?

    Ocean City has taken a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking in Ocean City. During the summer of 2014, Ocean City officials adopted this zero tolerance policy for underage parties and cited that noise violations dropped significantly as a result.  In accordance with their policies if the police show up to a party with underage minors on the premises and find red cups and beer they can charge a person with underage drinking. Since Ocean City is a dry city it does not appear that their own laws address underage drinking, however, if a person is charged with underage drinking under Title 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey, they can be convicted of a disorderly persons offense.

    Many people assume that because a disorderly persons offense is relatively minor it will not have a real impact on them and will not affect them in the future. However, there are many negative consequences that can accompany a conviction for a disorderly persons offense. Specifically, a person who is convicted of a disorderly persons offense for underage drinking can expect to pay a fine of $500 or more. Additionally, the judge can revoke your driving privileges for up to 6 months.  One of the biggest consequences of being charged with underage drinking is that you will then have a criminal record which can make it difficult for you to apply to schools and jobs.

    Going to Court for Underage Drinking Charges in Ocean County, NJ

    The kind of court your case is heard in will depend on your age when you are arrested for underage drinking. Not all underage drinking defendants are minors just because they are younger than the legal drinking age. The age of adulthood is 18, but the legal drinking age is 21. An underage drinking defendant could legally be an adult or a minor. As such, defendants could be tried in adult court or in the juvenile justice system.

    While the law applies more or less the same to juvenile defendants as it does to adults, the punishments and overall outcomes of cases may vary somewhat. The juvenile justice system focuses more on rehabilitation than it does on punishment. As a juvenile defendant, you are more likely to be put through alcohol treatment and education as a means of rehabilitation. However, adults can often take advantage of alternative sentencing programs and treatment as well.

    The biggest difference is in legal procedure. Juvenile proceedings are conducted in different courts in front of different judges under different rules. Our Ocean County, NJ underage drinking attorneys can help you, whether you are an adult or a minor.

    Underage Drinking and Driving in Ocean County, NJ

    Underage drinking becomes a more significant problem if the defendant is caught behind the wheel. Drinking and driving never mix, even for adults of legal drinking age. When an underage driver is caught drinking and driving, they could lose their license. Under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50.14, an underage driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or more can be charged with DWI. This is far lower than the normal BAC limit for adults over 21.

    According to the same law mentioned above, if an underage defendant was in a car while drinking, the court can suspend their driver’s license for 6 months. If the defendant was too young to have a license yet, the suspension pushes back when the defendant is legally eligible to apply for a license. If the defendant has a learner’s permit, the suspension kicks in when the permit is converted to a full license.

    You could face additional penalties if you are stopped while driving without a license after having your license suspended or revoked for underage drinking. Penalties for driving on a suspended license begin with a $500 fine and increase each time you are caught driving while suspended. Speak with our Ocean County, NJ underage drinking attorneys for more information.

    Expunging Underage Drinking Convictions in Ocean County, NJ

    If you are a first-time defendant, it might be possible to expunge your criminal conviction. An expungement is like deleting a conviction from your record, allowing you to start over with a clean slate. When your conviction is expunged, all related records are sealed, and your case is treated as if it did not exist. You are not legally required to disclose a conviction to anyone after an expungement.

    In some cases, juveniles can have their records expunged once they turn 18. For adult defendants, you might have to wait a few years after completing your sentence to expunge your conviction. However, judges tend to be amenable to expunging minor offenses like underage drinking, and our Ocean County, NJ underage drinking lawyers can help you explore this option.

    Our Ocean City Underage Drinking Attorneys Can Help

    If your son or daughter is facing serious New Jersey state charges in Superior Court for underage possession of alcohol or consuming beer, wine, or liquor before age 21 he or she faces a disorderly persons offense which is criminal in nature and stays on one’s permanent record. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of John J. Zarych can fight to protect your son or daughter from the full extent of legal consequences call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.

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