In New Jersey as well as the rest of the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. That means that any individual under the age of 21 who is found consuming an alcoholic beverage can face an underage drinking charge. Underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense.
Despite it being illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, many individuals opt to do so anyway. Underage drinking is an especially serious concern on college campuses and in beach towns throughout New Jersey, such as Seaside Heights and Belmar.
It is also a criminal offense to provide alcohol to minors. If you are over the age of 21 and you are asked to purchase alcoholic beverages for underage individuals, do not buy it for them.
Any individual charged with underage drinking faces a $500 fine. This type of charge is handled at the municipal level, which means that any individual charged with underage drinking must pay the fine to the town where the charge occurred, rather than his or her hometown, if it is different.
Underage individuals found consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages in vehicles also face a driver’s license suspension of six months. For adolescents who do not yet have driver’s licenses, this suspension begins on the day they become eligible for a driver’s license. For example, a 16-year-old who is three months from his 17th birthday will have to wait an additional six months to obtain a driver’s license.
Even a seemingly minor charge like underage drinking can affect an individual’s life for months or years following the offense. If you or your child have been charged with underage drinking in New Jersey, do not simply pay the fine without first exploring all of your legal options. Contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at (732) 365-3299 to discuss your charge and your legal options. You could potentially have the charge dismissed. Do not wait to make the call – we are available to work with clients in Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Middlesex, and Burlington counties.