The holidays makes everyone a little extra merry. This weekend, many of us will undoubtedly enhance that merriment with a bit of alcohol. Some of us may also offer that merriment-enhancement to those friends and family members who may be a bit shy of the legal drinking age.
Providing alcohol to a minor can have serious legal consequences. If you have given alcohol to a minor or are thinking about doing so at an upcoming family event, it’s important to know what you may be facing – and when it may actually be legal to do so.
Under New Jersey law, if you knowingly giving alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age, you can be convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor. Even if you didn’t provide the alcohol, if you encourage a minor to drink you can be charged with the same crime. A conviction can result in up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a criminal record.
The state also has a Social Host Liability Law, which imposes civil penalties on social hosts who give alcohol to minors who are then involved in accidents. In other words, if it’s your party or home, you could face both criminal and civil consequences for furnishing a minor with alcohol.
The repercussions aren’t limited to you; the minor could face an underage drinking charge. This is a disorderly persons offense and comes with a fine between $500 and $1,000. He or she could also face up to 6 months in jail. Moreover, if the underage drinking offense is committed in a vehicle, his or her driving privileges may be suspended or postponed for 6 months.
The law allows adults over the age of 21 to provide alcohol to minors in three specific circumstances:
- You are the parent or guardian of the minor.
- The consumption of alcohol is part of a religious observance or ceremony.
- You do so in the presence of the child’s parents and with their permission.
Hopefully your holiday has merriment to spare, with or without alcohol. If you or a loved one has been cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor, underage drinking, or for any other criminal offense in New Jersey, contact an attorney for help. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.