New Jersey Drinking and Driving Defense Update: Underage DWI and its Consequences

In New Jersey the law covering underage drinking and driving leaves little to the imagination. An individual must be 21 years of age or older to buy, be in possession or consume any type of alcohol-containing drink or beverage. In short: underage drinking is unequivocally defined as illegal. Because the state has such a strong stance against underage drinking, the legal consequences for this activity are severe under New Jersey law, especially when it comes to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Whether or not a youth is stopped for DWI, simply being convicted of drinking as a minor could affect that child’s future driving privileges. As a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer, I know the negative impact that DWI and underage DWI can have on an individual now and in the future. For kids, this is not an area of the law they would want to experience. As a parent, it would behoove you to talk to your child about the consequences of underage drinking and underage DWI.

In this state, if a person under 21 years old is arrested for purchasing or consuming an alcoholic drink in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol, he or she could be fined $500, as well as lose their driver’s license for up to six months. Parents take note here, because even if your child does not yet have a driver’s license that potential suspension will start when the youngster is first eligible to receive his or her license. Furthermore, a young person who violates underage drinking laws may also be required by the court to attend an alcohol treatment or education program.

Anyone under 21 caught with even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system — that is, a blood-alcohol content of 0.01 or more — will be subject to: 1) the loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days; 2) fifteen to 30 days of community service; and 3) Successful completion of the program requirements of an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or an alcohol education and highway safety program.

The Law Offices of John F. Marshall has a great deal of experience defending youngsters charged with underage DWI. I personally have been defending clients in New Jersey Municipal Courts for 15 years. Having worked as a municipal prosecutor earlier in my career, I know first-hand how the prosecution tends to approach such cases.