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Ocean County, NJ Underage Drinking Attorney

It is not uncommon for underage teenagers and young adults to indulge in drinking alcohol. This rite of passage may seem like fun, but it remains illegal. Anyone engaging in underage drinking rarely considers the consequences and repercussions should they get caught. A conviction could go on your permanent criminal record and have long-lasting adverse effects for years to come.

Under no circumstances should you take an arrest for underage drinking lightly. It is crucial to immediately contact our Ocean County, NJ underage drinking attorney so you can protect your rights or the rights of your child. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to review your options.

Ocean County, NJ for Underage Drinking Laws

Penalties for young adults and teenagers who are consuming, possessing, or purchasing alcohol before the legal age of 21 are codified under N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. More specifically, the crime is categorized as a disorderly offense and prohibits an underage individual from…

  • Consuming alcohol
  • Possessing alcohol
  • Purchasing alcohol
  • Consuming or possessing alcohol in a motor vehicle, public conveyance, public place, or school

Furthermore, N.J.S.A. § 2C:33:1-81 prohibits an underage individual from lying about their age to purchase alcoholic beverages. Other conduct criminalized by under this provision includes the following.

  • An underage individual entering a liquor store or bar in an attempt to purchase alcohol
  • Drinking alcohol at a restaurant, bar, or other establishment licensed to serve liquor
  • Asking another person to purchase alcohol on their behalf
  • Providing false information regarding their name and age to purchase alcohol
  • Using false identification to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment licensed to sell alcohol

Ocean County Penalties for Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a serious matter in New Jersey. If you are convicted of underage drinking, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense. This charge carries a minimum fine of $500 with the possibility of an increased penalty of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Furthermore, a minor could have their driving license suspended for six months.

If you are convicted of underage drinking, your sentence is likely to be comprised of one or more of the following punishments:

  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Mandatory substance abuse treatment
  • Detention in a juvenile facility
  • Suspension or delay of driving privileges
  • Monetary restitution

New Jersey also offers programs such as a Conditional Discharge, which allows a minor to avoid jail and an underage drinking conviction. Unfortunately, a program such as Conditional Discharge has limited availability and even qualifying individuals could be denied enrollment. Our attorney will review the qualifications and discuss the possibility of success in pursuing this avenue.

If this program is applicable in your situation, and you are accepted, the program will include a mixture of substance abuse programs and counseling, community service, and potential probation. If you successfully complete all aspects of the program, the underage drinking charges will be dropped. However, if you fail to comply with all the necessary requires your case will be moved to trial.

It is also crucial to understand that the impact of an underage drinking charge extends beyond the initial fines and sentencing. Even if you are lucky enough only to have a fine, the conviction will be part of your permanent criminal record. This could adversely affect your life for years, limiting your employment possibilities, your ability to rent an apartment, and in certain situations, lose or be prohibited from obtaining a college scholarship. You should not take an underage drinking charge lightly, failure to retain our experienced Stone Harbor attorney could have long-lasting repercussions.

Legal Exceptions and Defenses Available for Underage Drinking in Ocean County, NJ

An induvial under the age of 21 can possess and consume alcohol if it occurs on private property and in the presence of their parents. This exemption does not apply to minors who are not part of the family.

Individuals engaged in a religious ritual are also exempt from underage drinking laws. A person under the age of 21 is permitted to consume alcohol during a religious ceremony.

Another exemption exists if the person under 21 years of age is employed in the hotel or restaurant industry. If their specific duties require the possession and handling of alcohol or an alcoholic beverage, then the underage drinking laws do not apply.

There are also protections from prosecution in place if an underage individual is dealing with a medical emergency. As a matter of public policy, underage persons faced with a medical crisis will have immunity from prosecution when calling 911 for emergency assistance. However, this immunity is not absolute and requires the underage individual to comply with all the elements listed below.

  • The underage person must be the first person to call for emergency care
  • They must provide their full name to the 911 dispatcher
  • They remain at the scene and willful cooperate with the medical personnel and law enforcement
  • This immunity is granted to three individuals at the scene if they comply with the above conditions

These exceptions do not mean that you will avoid charges in every case, but they might mean that we can get those charges dismissed in court. Call a lawyer for help.

Call Our Ocean County, NJ Underage Drinking Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation

An underage drinking conviction is not a child’s matter; it is a criminal adult problem that our young adults and teenagers face. Do not let your future, or your child’s future, be permanently hurt without the vigorous legal defense our office can provide. If you, or your child, has been arrest for consuming or possessing alcohol, contact our Ocean County, NJ underage drinking attorney today. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free appointment and discuss your legal options.