Every year as the weather turns warmer, people flock to the Jersey shore from all over the country for a summer getaway. While at the beach, tourists and locals alike want to cut loose and enjoy themselves. For many, having a good time is synonymous with having a drink. While you may be able to have a drink at a seaside bar or restaurant, drinking on the beach is a different story.
The State of New Jersey does not actually have any laws on the books prohibiting alcohol on the beach. However, this does not mean people have free reign to drink on the beach. Instead, most beach towns impose local ordinances that prohibit alcohol consumption on the beach. There are, however, state laws applying to the public consumption or possession of alcohol by those who are underage. Overall, the penalties for drinking on the beach will vary depending on the township your beach falls under.
If you have been charged for drinking alcohol on the beach in New Jersey, call our NJ public intoxication attorneys for help. Remember, the way we approach your charges may depend on which beach and town you were charged in. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to arrange a confidential legal consultation free of charge.
Can I Drink on the Beach in NJ?
While there is no state law prohibiting alcohol on the beach in New Jersey, you probably cannot drink on the beach. Instead of applying a universal state law to all of New Jersey’s beaches, each beach is governed by a local town or city. Individual beach towns may apply their own local ordinances prohibiting alcohol on the beach. Most beaches in New Jersey fall under a local rule banning alcohol consumption.
Because the laws surrounding alcohol on beaches vary from town to town, the penalties for drinking on the beach will vary in a similar fashion. In most towns along the Jersey shore, you are likely to face a fine for drinking on the beach. Different towns may impose different fines, so it is crucial that you speak to a local attorney who is familiar with the town’s alcohol laws.
Alcohol tends to go hand-in-hand with poor decision making. If you are caught by the authorities drinking alcohol on the beach, you might face other penalties in addition to those for drinking on the beach. It is not unusual for intoxicated beach goers to cause disruptions and be charged with a disorderly conduct offense. Tourists who may not realize that alcohol is prohibited on New Jersey’s beaches may become upset, angry, or belligerent when confronted by law enforcement, especially if they have already had a few drinks.
If you are facing legal consequences for drinking on the beach at the Jersey shore, call our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for assistance. We can help you prevent your beach vacation from turning into a nightmare.
Penalties for Underage Alcohol Consumption on the Beach in NJ
Anyone younger than the legal drinking age of 21 is considered underage in relation to alcohol-related offenses. Underage defendants who are charged with drinking on the beach in New Jersey may face separate penalties and consequences. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-15, a state law in New Jersey, there are no criminal charges or penalties associated with underage drinking on the beach.
Underage offenders who are caught by law enforcement with alcohol are instead issued written warnings and given information about available alcohol treatment and education programs. If the offender is younger than 18, a copy of the written warning is forwarded to the offender’s parents. Records of these warnings are kept on file to keep track of repeat offenders.
While state law does not mandate any criminal charges for underage alcohol consumption on the beach, there may be local ordinances that do. If your child is facing penalties for drinking on the beach, call our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys for help.
Drinking at the Beach in NJ
In the past, alcohol on the beach and nearby public spaces like boardwalks and promenades have been alcohol free zones. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, some beach towns in New Jersey have eased those restrictions. Again, these local ordinances will vary from town to town, so you should check about alcohol laws before planning your vacation.
Some towns allow residents to purchase drinks and cocktails to-go from local bars and restaurants whose businesses were severely hindered by the pandemic. Some places still allow alcohol in limited public spaces, but others do not. In some cases, these new rules were always meant to be a temporary solution, and the laws permitting things like cocktails to-go may have expired.
Our Wildwood criminal defense lawyers can help you determine which beaches allow alcohol in limited public spaces and whether those rules are still in effect.
Defenses to Charges for Drinking Alcohol on the Beach in NJ
If you are stopped by the police or local law enforcement for having alcohol on the beach in New Jersey, our NJ public intoxication attorneys can help you defend yourself against these charges. How we can help defend you will depend on the details of your case.
New Jersey typically applies public intoxication laws to people who are carrying open containers. An open container is one with its original seal broken, or is in a container that it was not originally packaged in. For example, pouring vodka into an empty water bottle would be considered an open container even if the water bottle of vodka is sealed shut. If your alcohol is still in its original container with its seal unbroken, we can challenge your charges and penalties.
If the police had to search your person or belongings before they found the open container of alcohol, there may be grounds to challenge your case. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(2)(a), minors cannot lawfully consent to a search nor can the police request that a minor consent to a search. If you were younger than 18 and believe you consented to a search that led to alcohol-related charges, we can challenge that search. Talk to our Cape May criminal defense attorneys to get help fighting your charges.
Call Our NJ Attorney for Underage Alcohol Consumption
If you are facing legal penalties for drinking alcohol on the beach in New Jersey, you should contact our NJ public intoxication attorneys immediately. We are familiar with the various local ordinances throughout the Jersey shore surrounding the consumption of alcohol on the beach and help you fight your case. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation.