Alcohol and Drug Charges for NJ College Students
How Common is Drug and Alcohol Use among College Students?
Consumption patterns and trends are not all that different between college students and non-students. However, if you are enrolled in a college or university, you also face additional penalties if you are caught using drugs or drinking underage in New Jersey. For example, if you are a Rutgers University student, you will not only be held to New Jersey law, but you also must follow the Rutgers Alcohol and Drug Policy and you may be disciplined by the university for any law or policy you break.
Despite the rise in use of marijuana among young adults who are non-college students, marijuana use by college students has been trending lower than their non-college student counterparts. Vaping marijuana, in particular, is a trend that appears to be higher among non-college students than those enrolled in school. However, college students tend to use alcohol more often and also tend to mix alcohol into energy drinks more frequently than non-students.
What are the Consequences of Drinking Underage in College?
While many people take it for granted that college students will party and consume alcohol from the very beginning of their college career, there are actually serious legal consequences in New Jersey for individuals under the age of 21 who knowingly possess or consume alcohol. In New Jersey, underage drinking is a disorderly persons offense. If you receive a citation for Minor in Possession, which will appear on your record and generate fines $250 for your first offense and $350 for each subsequent offense, you may be ordered to participate in a drug awareness program. The consequences do not end there. Although not frequently imposed, if you are found guilty or delinquent of being in possession of or consuming alcohol as a minor, you can be sentenced up to 6 months in prison.
As a college student, the potential penalties for this lapse in judgment go on. A charge for being an underage person in possession of alcohol may be reported to your school, which may then take disciplinary action according to its alcohol and drug policy. Depending on your school policy, if it is your first offense, you may simply be required to speak with a counselor and/or attend an educational program on the dangers of alcohol consumption. If it is your second or subsequent offense, the penalties may be more severe—up to and including suspension from the university.
I was Charged with a Marijuana Offense, Will I get Kicked out of School?
In New Jersey, a charge for possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana is sometimes known as a “municipal marijuana” charge because it is classified as a disorderly persons offense. These cases are heard in the municipal court of the town or city where you are arrested and decided by a municipal court judge. If you are over 18, you will be tried as an adult and, if convicted, you face up to 6 months in prison and fines of up to $1,000. You may also have your license suspended and be ordered to participate in a drug treatment or education program.
Just like an underage drinking citation, if you are charged with possession of marijuana by the police or if school officials find you in possession of marijuana, you will be subject to consequences under your school’s alcohol and drug policy. If you are a Rutgers University student and it is your first possession of marijuana offense, you may be required to meet with a counselor and successfully complete a workshop and assessment about your drug use.
If it is your second or subsequent offense or you are charged with possession of a more serious drug like prescription pills without a valid prescription, ecstasy, cocaine, or any other illegal controlled dangerous substance, you may face charges under the University Code of Student Conduct and be placed in the University judicial conduct process. It is important to note that even if civil or criminal charges against you are dropped, your University judicial conduct proceedings can and will likely continue. Penalties may include suspension from the school or even expulsion in the case of more serious or repeated offenses.
Need a Lawyer for Charges at College in New Brunswick, NJ
If you are a college student in New Jersey who has been charged with a drug or alcohol related offense, you have a lot at stake. You have worked hard to get to where you are and you should not give up now or throw your chances for reaching your goals away. Contact the law firm of Proetta & Oliver at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer today. We will help you assess your options and will advocate on your behalf to prevent this incident from impacting your future as much as possible.
You can read more about Drug and Alcohol Use among College Students in this resource.