Drinking and Driving by Minors in New Jersey: Heavy Consequences Apply to Underage DWI Convictions

Here in New Jersey, state and local law enforcement agencies take underage drinking very seriously. As a minor or parent of an underage child, you should know that New Jersey law is very specific when it comes to underage drinking and driving. Since a person must be 21 years or older to puchase, be in possession of or consume an alcoholic beverage, underage drinking is — by definition — against the law.

The consequences of underage drinking are rather severe under state law, especially as when as it applies to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. But regardless of whether you are stopped for DWI while operating a vehicle, simply being convicted of underage drinking could very probably affect your driving privileges into the future.

Case in point, say an individual under 21 is arrested for purchasing and/or consuming a beer or wine cooler at a licensed establishment,that person could be fined $500, not to mention lose his or her driver’s license for a maximum of 6 months. Parents please make a note here: Even if your youngster doesn’t have his or her driver’s license yet, the potential driver’s license suspension will begin as soon as he or she becomes eligible to receive their license. Furthermore, any youngster who violates New Jersey’s underage drinking laws may also be required 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 the following penalties under New Jersey law:

— Loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days — 15 to 30 days of community service — Successful completion of the program requirements of an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or an alcohol education and highway safety program
As drunk driving attorneys, I and my colleagues have a great deal of experience in defending individuals charged with underage DWI offenses. We have been defending clients in New Jersey Municipal Courts for more than 15 years. Because conviction for a drinking and driving offense can have a serious impact on a young person’s life going forward, an underage drinking arrest should not be ignored.