Drinking on the beach or while on vacation at the shore seems like an excellent way to spend part of your summer. However, law enforcement in Sea Isle City rigorously police underage drinking, writing high numbers of citations each week. If you or your child was charged with underage drinking in Sea Isle, you should speak with an attorney at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
The Sea Isle City, NJ underage drinking attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych work to fight underage drinking charges and resolve these cases without impact on your criminal record. If you are facing underage drinking charges, contact our law offices online or call us today to set up a free consultation on your charges. Our number is (609) 616-4956.
When Can You Be Charged with Underage Drinking in Sea Isle?
The drinking age in New Jersey is 21. In addition, Sea Isle City has local ordinances that prohibit drinking in public places, especially the beach. You can receive citations for open containers if police catch you drinking on the beach, whether the alcohol is in a bottle or poured into an unlabeled container. Police often use open container violations to justify further investigation, asking drinkers for IDs and charging them with underage drinking when they cannot prove they are 21 or older.
New Jersey’s underage drinking statute, N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-15, makes it illegal to possess or consume alcohol when you are under 21. That means that, while drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, so is holding or carrying alcohol for your friends – or parents.
There are a few specific exceptions to this statute which do make possession or even drinking while under 21 legal in NJ. First, you can possess liquor if it is part of your job, e.g., bartending, bussing tables, or stocking a store or restaurant. You can also, unsurprisingly, drink wine as part of a religious service without fear of facing a citation. Lastly, there is a legal grey area for underage drinking in private places. While the state does not prohibit underage drinking at home with a parent’s permission, local laws may.
Sea Isle City does not appear to have a specific local ordinance banning underage drinking at home, and § 2C:33-17 does permit parents older than 21 to give their children alcohol in the home. However, you should always speak with an attorney about whether this is legal in your area. Keep in mind that even if you drink legally at home, you could still face potential penalties if you are caught being drunk in public or taking a beverage outside.
Penalties for Underage Drinking in SIC, NJ
If you are caught drinking while under 21, you may face severe penalties. This offense is not a minor citation or simple summary violation. New Jersey calls these offenses “disorderly persons offenses,” and they are similar to what other states and the federal criminal system refer to as misdemeanors. In NJ, disorderly persons offenses are punished by a maximum of 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Penalties for underage drinking are even more serious since they can include additional penalties. First, while the typical fine for a disorderly persons offense is $0-$1,000, underage drinking has a minimum fine of $500. Also, if you were caught drinking under 21 in a car or another vehicle, you can face a 6-month driver’s license suspension. This applies even if you were not driving.
When your license is suspended, you cannot drive anywhere in the State of New Jersey. If you are under 17 and have not received your driver’s license, instead of a 6-month suspension, your date of eligibility for your driver’s license is pushed back 6 months. If you have an out of state license, your ability to drive within the borders of New Jersey is revoked for that period. However, your home state may require you to notify them of license suspensions in other states and may suspend your license at home, as well.
While jail time is possible in an underage drinking case, courts usually do not give jail time for nonviolent offenses. However, you could still face penalties that involve things like probation and other supervision. Judges can also order you to alcohol abuse treatment if they feel this is justified.
On top of the state offense, Sea Isle City also has a local ordinance against underage drinking or entering the premises of a bar or nightclub while under 21, which can lead to additional fines. If you are charged with any crime in New Jersey, you must also face these charges in New Jersey, potentially meaning you need to return to the shore to face the charges against you.
Underage Drinking Defense Lawyers at the New Jersey Shore
If you or your child was charged with underage drinking at the Jersey Shore or anywhere in South Jersey, contact the Sea Isle City underage drinking lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling juvenile offenses and criminal charges in New Jersey. To schedule a free consultation to seek help with your underage drinking charges, contact our law offices online or call us today at (609) 616-4956.