New Brunswick Underage Drinking Attorney
Possession and Consumption of Alcohol Underage Defense Attorney in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Let’s not kid ourselves – underage drinking is widespread in New Jersey. But when you throw almost 50,000 college students together at Rutgers University in Piscataway and New Brunswick it takes the drinking and partying to a whole new level. Cops who are normally willing to look the other way and are now forced to issue summonses for possession and consumption of alcohol underage under 2C:33-15 in order to enforce local peace keeping for the surrounding community. This has lead New Brunswick and Rutgers PD to implement a strict “no tolerance” policy when it comes to drinking or even possessing alcohol under the legal drinking age of 21. The local police are constantly on the lookout for underage intoxicated students roaming the streets especially after the bars and parties on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This is part of the reason why we often see underage drinking charges with companion complaints such as possession of a fake ID, providing alcohol to minors or even disorderly conduct.
Can I Be Charged With Underage Drinking If The Cops Didn’t See Me Drink?
Yes – although the law is entitled “possession, consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under legal age” the police don’t actually have to see you holding the alcohol or drinking it in order for you to be charged and convicted of underage drinking. In fact, a large portion of the underage drinking cases we see involve situations where the police didn’t catch the defendants “red handed” with a red solo cup. But instead normally police encounter an intoxicated minor after the fact. If the police find probable cause that you have any alcohol at all in your system, then you will be arrested. The police can determine consumption of alcohol by smelling your breath, having you perform sobriety tests or even using a portable breathalyzer. If you are approached by police it is important you know your rights and do not admit to drinking alcohol if you are under 21 years old.
Underage Drinking Law in New Jersey: N.J.S.A 2C:33-15
The New Jersey law for underage drinking and possession of alcohol is found under section N.J.S.A 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. We have included an excerpt from the statute below.
Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and shall be fined not less than $500.00.
Notably, the statute contains an additional provision related to underage possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, stating: “Whenever this offense is committed in a motor vehicle, the court shall, in addition to the sentence authorized for the offense, suspend or postpone for six months the driving privilege of the defendant.”
Penalties & Sentencing For Underage Drinking in New Jersey
As detailed in the statute above, underage possession or consumption of alcohol is classified as a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. A disorderly persons offenses can carry up to 6 months in the Middlesex County county jail and a fine between $500 and $1,000. Other penalties could include probation, community service and a suspension of your driver’s license. But the biggest penalty, in our opinion, is the permanent criminal record that will follow you around when you try to find a job if you are convicted. Also, it is important to note that if you get caught driving after consuming alcohol underage you could also face additional charges for driving while intoxicated or underage DWI. To learn more about these penalties please visit their respective pages.
The Good Samaritan Protection Against Underage Drinking Charges
The last thing the police and lawmakers want to do is penalize kids so hard for underage drinking that no one wants to call 911 for help when someone has alcohol poisoning and is in need of medical treatment. That is why the statute specifically allows for protection and non-prosecution of good Samaritans who themselves are drinking underage but call 911 for a friend in need of help from alcohol consumption. This same protection can apply to a group of young individuals who remain on the scene with the person in need of medical assistance (who is under the legal drinking age) until assistance arrives and then cooperate with the EMTs and police at the scene. It is important to note that the person who received the medical attention for over-consumption of alcohol would also be immune from prosecution for underage drinking.
Contact Edison NJ Underage Drinking Lawyers to Discuss Your Case
If you have been charged with underage drinking, providing alcohol to minors, or possessing a fake ID, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. We represent clients throughout Middlesex County including Edison, Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Old Bridge and North Brunswick. We offer free consultations for prospective clients facing criminal charges. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, contact our Middlesex County underage drinking attorneys today at (732) 659-9600.
For more information about New Jersey’s Underage Drinking Laws, access the New Jersey State Profile provided by the New Jersey Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.