Sure, we were all young once… and who of us didn’t make at least one questionable decision in their early years? Kids are kids, for Pete’s sake; and if you’re going to make a misstep sometime in your life, childhood or thereabouts is probably the best time to do it, right? Most childhood antics can get a kid in trouble, but buying or pilfering alcohol and then drinking it as a minor, well, that tends to get mom and dad’s attention… really fast!
All kidding aside, having one’s minor child arrested for underage drinking, or worse, underage DWI is a serious issue that needs immediate attention, preferably with the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable drunk driving defense attorney with proficiency in the area of handling underage drinking and alcohol possession cases. As a former municipal prosecutor, I have had the opportunity to work both sides of the aisle when it comes to DWI and drug DUI trial law.
Understanding that a teenager or minor child who is charged with underage drinking, and especially DWI, is nothing to fool around with is the first step to dealing with the incident. We all know that kids get into trouble from time to time; but parents who want the best for their children know intrinsically that a youngster who is caught with alcohol or who has been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence is complicating his adult life usually with little or no knowledge of the future consequences.
As New Jersey DWI-DUI defense lawyers, I and my colleagues have decades of experience in all manner of criminal defense, which includes defending motorists accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated by beer, wine or hard liquor, as well as drug DUI involving impairment from doctor-prescribed meds, marijuana or cannabis use, cocaine or another controlled dangerous substance (CDS). We approach every case with professionalism and commitment, because we know how serious DWI and DUI offenses have become in the eyes of the law, the courts and the public at large.
When it comes to underage DWI, the New Jersey statutes (as set forth in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14) represent a “zero tolerance” policy. In other words, the law makes it strictly illegal for an individual under 21 years of age to have ANY alcohol in their bloodstream while operating a car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle. If there is a silver lining to any charge of underage DWI it could be in regard to many of the penalties, which are generally less severe than those for of-age drivers.
This applies to the usual range of DWI-related charges including driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs (prescription and illegal substances). From the standpoint of license suspension, an underage driver who is found guilty can face as little as a 30-day suspension of his or her driver’s license; compare that to 90-day suspension for an adult convicted of the same offense. Needless to say, if a conviction is unavoidable, it is important to be certain that the verdict is based on a charge of underage drinking and driving, not “normal” DWI or DUI.
With this in mind it was interesting to read about the recent arrest of William H. Paul, the 19-year-old son of United states Senator Rand Paul. According to recent news articles, the young man was allegedly stopped by police a week ago on a Saturday morning at Charlotte Douglas International Airport after arriving on a US Airways flight. He arrested and charged with being intoxicated and disruptive, disorderly conduct, as well as consuming alcohol while underage.
Local police officials believed that the young man was likely served beer or wine aboard the airliner at some point during the flight; however, the airline denied having ever sold the teen any alcohol. In a statement released via email by US Airways, the company said that “…William Hilton Paul was not served alcohol on board his US Airways flight from Lexington to Charlotte this past Saturday.” Based on police information, Mr. Paul was booked into the local jail that evening, but was subsequently released hours later after posting $750 bond.
A short statement from Senator Rand’s office helps to remind us all that every parent at one time or another has had to deal with a teenager’s less-than-admirable behavior. It read: “Sen. Paul is a national public figure and subject to scrutiny in the public arena. However, as many parents with teenagers would understand, his family should be afforded the privacy and respect they deserve in a situation such as this.”
US Airways denies serving alcohol to Sen. Rand Paul’s son, CharlotteObserver.com, January, 7, 2013