Underage Drinking in New Jersey: § 2C:33-15

According to statistics complied by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, underage drinking cost the citizens of New Jersey 1.5 billion dollars in 2010, of which 600 million dollars was spend exclusively on medical care.  This shocking tally amounts to an expenditure of $1825 per youth in New Jersey.  Underage drinking is widespread in New Jersey, with just under three out of four high school students reporting that they had consumed alcohol. In fact, underage New Jersey residents consumed 18.1% of all alcohol sold is New Jersey in 2009, ranking New Jersey as the 17th highest state for underage drinking.

The Consequences of Underage Drinking

In New Jersey during 2009 an estimated 21 traffic fatalities and 2,183 nonfatal traffic injuries were attributable to underage drunk drivers. Other harm associated with underage drinking was an estimated 39 homicides, a staggering 16,200 nonfatal violent crimes including rape, robbery and assault, and 35,500 property crimes including burglary and car theft.

New Jersey’s Underage Drinking Laws

Despite the pervasive problem of under age drinking, New Jersey has a number of laws pertaining to underage drinkers codified as Title 2C:33-15 under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice.

The state of New Jersey prohibits under age drinking on all public property such as parking lots and sports fields, schools, all school-owned property, and in all motor vehicles, regardless of whether they are running at the time or not. Furthermore, in the case of a vehicle, a violation occurs even if the alcohol is unopened.

New Jersey law expressly prohibits an underage person from purchasing alcohol, misrepresenting their age in order to buy alcohol, or getting a legal-aged individual to purchase alcohol for them. Those who buy alcohol for minors can be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The State of New Jersey has not criminalized underage drinking on private property. However, it should noted that most of New Jersey 566 municipalities have enacted laws prohibiting underage drinking on private property such as in a backyard at a barbecue.

Consequences for underage drinking in New Jersey

 There are real consequences for an underage drinking conviction in New Jersey.  A conviction for underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense, and a fine not less than $500.  More stringent penalties are also a possibility including jail time of up to six months, and up to $1000 in fines.

If the underage drinking offense is committed in a vehicle, in addition to the usual penalties, the defendant’s driving privilege may be suspended or postponed for six months.

A conviction for underage drinking goes on your permanent criminal record and will appear on a criminal background check performed by educational institutions and employers.  It is advisable that you obtain competent legal representation when faced with an underage drinking charge in New Jersey.

At the Rosenblum Law Firm our lawyers will vigorously defend you against the charges you face. Call us now for the opportunity to speak directly to an attorney free of charge: 1-888-815-3649.