When it comes to underage drinking, New Jersey has very clear laws in regard to what is considered underage drinking and what should be considered as the consequences. The drinking age in New Jersey, and across the United States is 21 years old. This means any one under 21 is considered a minor. Being caught with alcohol as a minor can be much more serious than just a misdemeanor or criminal charge.
If someone is caught with alcohol that is underage, it can result in a disorderly person charge which is anywhere from a $500 to $1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Further, this charge could affect a persons ability to drive, regardless of if they have a license yet. It can add up to 6 months of postponement of obtaining a license. Aside from just being penalized, minors can be subject to having to take alcohol education courses in order to prevent additional misuse of the substance, especially as a minor.
A lot of people assume that if a minor gets in trouble, this misdemeanor does not get put on their public record. However, that is not only the case. In fact, only a few cases get expunged. Due to the lack of expungement, there is a strong possibility that it affects the persons ability to get a job, as most employers check for criminal background history. Additionally, trying to enlist in the military can be a hindrance if there is a record.
Not only are minors penalized for underage consumption, but parents who allow underage drinking can lose even more. Parents who host parties can be charged with endangering the welfare of a child, and unlawfully dealing with a child. Under the law, a parent can only give alcohol to their own child in their own home. There is no law protecting a parent from giving another child alcohol. In fact, parents can sue other parents for unlawfully giving alcohol.
Important things to keep in mind are that if a person underage calls 911 due to the need for medical attention, they will not be penalized under the Good Samaraitan law. So, if a minor is drinking it is encouraged that they reach out for help when needed.
Ultimately, underage drinking not only can result in serious consequences for the minor, but an adult hosting a party for minors can result in losing everything.