Many New Jersey seniors are gearing up for graduation season and looking forward to the house parties that often accompany the ceremonious occasion. But, it's important to note, if alcohol becomes a part of those special events, both the parents and the graduating teen stand to get in serious legal trouble. It's not uncommon for parents to host celebrations with the thinking that if their children will be partying with access to alcohol, at least they'll be doing it in a supervised environment…but, the truth is, it's against the law.
Providing Alcohol to Persons Under 21 Years Old (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17a)
It is a criminal offense to serve alcohol to anyone under the legal age of 21 in NJ. Those who do, face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment for underage drinking in New Jersey. If you are hosting a graduation party, and minors are present, it is your job to ensure they are provided non-alcoholic beverages and not drinking the alcohol. Announcing your policy to all of the guests could go a long way in providing protection for you if any legal consequences develop later down the road.
Sneaking a few beers to the graduates can result in severe criminal, financial and emotional consequences. Protect yourself as a social host by knowing the laws:
• It is illegal in NJ to serve alcohol to anyone who is under the legal drinking age of 21 (NJSA 2C:33-17a).
• It is illegal in NJ to make your home or property available for the purpose of allowing anyone who is under the legal drinking age of 21 a place to consume alcohol (NJSA 2C:33-17b).
• Any person who serves or makes alcohol available to a person under the legal drinking age of 21 is subject to a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail per person served. Parents can be held civilly liable even if they are not present during the time of the party (NJSA 2C:33-17).
• If serving an underage person alcohol results in injury, the adult may be charged with Endangering the Welfare of Children, and may be subject to a fine of up to $15,000 and up to 5 years in state prison (NJSA 2C:24-4).
• New Jersey Law imposes civil liability on social hosts who serve alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 who is subsequently involved in an incident causing injury or death.
• A social host may be sued for up to two years after an incident that occurs resulting in injury or death. As the result of a lawsuit, your house, car, and bank accounts may be seized and future wages may be garnished.
Zero-Tolerance Law (N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-15)
The consequences of underage drinking in New Jersey and DWI convictions (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14) can carry some very harsh penalties and is taken very seriously. The New Jersey zero-tolerance law has two-parts:
• The first: if a minor under 21 years of age is caught driving with a negligible percentage of alcohol in his or her blood, they will be arrested for a DUI immediately.
• The second: if the minor is caught driving with any level of alcohol in the system, their license will be automatically suspended or revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
Contact an Attorney for a Charge of Underage Drinking and Underage DWI
If you or a loved one was recently charged with furnishing a minor with alcohol, or charged with underage drinking in Monmouth County or Ocean County, you should consult with a New Jersey Underage Drinking Lawyer today to protect your rights. Your situation is important to us, which is why the attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can be reached 24 hours a day and 7 days a week at 732-709-7757.
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