Individuals under the age of 21 that are caught consuming or possessing alcohol, or even traveling in a car where alcohol is present, face financial penalties, loss of license, and in some cases, risk being tried as an adult. If you have been charged with underage drinking in New Jersey, or with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, it is imperative to seek legal counsel.

Legal Consequences for Underage Drinking

New Jersey law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol, or to drive under the influence of alcohol. The legal penalties for each of these offenses can have a significant impact on the future of those who are found guilty, especially if the offenders are charged as adults.

New Jersey has a zero-tolerance policy for underage driving while intoxicated.  The legal blood alcohol limit for adults is 0.08 percent. For minors, the legal blood alcohol level is 0.00 percent. Any minor with a blood alcohol level above 0.01 is considered guilty of driving while intoxicated. If a minor driver is found to have a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent, they will be charged as an adult.

The legal consequences for minors guilty of driving while intoxicated are severe.  First time offenders have a minimum of 90 days license suspension and 15 to 30 days of community service. The driver will also be required to complete an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program or other court-approved alcohol education program. 

Possession of Alcohol

New Jersey law also prohibits minors from possessing and consuming alcohol. A person under the age of 21 that has consumed or is in possession of alcohol is guilty of a disorderly persons misdemeanor offense. The penalty is six months suspension of their driver’s license, a fine of $500, and completion of the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program or other court-approved alcohol education program. It is important to note that the penalties of possession of alcohol in a car applies to all minors in the car, not just the driver. For drivers aged 18 to 21 years, possession of alcohol can carry a fine up to $1,000 and a mandated alcohol education program or in-patient treatment program lasting up to six months. Underage drinking that results in a misdemeanor charge can also result in a prison term up to 180 days.

Consultation with a DUI Lawyer

Whenever a minor under the age of 21 is charged with alcohol consumption, possession, or driving under the influence of alcohol, it is imperative to seek counsel from an experienced DUI lawyer. Penalties for these charges can be significant and have a detrimental affect on future college and job opportunities. 

New Jersey takes underage drinking seriously and the court systems uphold the laws in most cases. Consulting a reputable and experienced DUI lawyer is essential to minimizing the long-term effects of this type of misdemeanor charge.  The DUI attorney can work on an out-of-court settlement, get the charges against you reduced or dismissed, and limit the financial penalties attached to a guilty verdict. 

Haddonfield Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Represent Those Facing Underage Drinking Charges

If you are facing underage drinking charges, the Haddonfield criminal lawyers at Aita Law, LLC can help. Call us at 856-287-7800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We are well-versed in criminal defense and will fight to obtain the justice you deserve. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County and Cherry Hill.