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In New Jersey, the legal drinking age is 21. Therefore, if you are under 21, it is illegal for you to consume any amount of alcohol. This is true regardless of where you are, who you are with, and whether or not you put yourself or someone else in danger — with only a few very limited exceptions.
Of course, as a college student, it can be hard not to be around alcohol. But, if you’ve been charged with an alcohol-related offense, being in college is not a defense, and you will need to hire an experienced New Jersey underage drinking attorney to help you avoid unnecessary consequences.
New Jersey has three primary laws that impose penalties for underage drinking. These are the state’s laws that prohibit: (i) misrepresenting your age to obtain (or try to obtain) alcohol, (ii) possessing or consuming alcohol when you’re under 21, and (iii) driving under the influence (DUI) when you’re under 21.
Whether you use a fake ID or simply walk into a bar or liquor store and try to buy alcohol, you can be charged with a crime under Section 33:1-81 of the New Jersey Statutes. This law also makes it illegal to ask someone else to buy alcohol for you. Specifically, you can be charged with a disorderly person offense under Section 33:1-81 if you:
Regardless of how you obtain it, it is illegal to possess or consume alcohol in New Jersey if you are under 21. Section 2C:33-15 of the New Jersey Statutes states:
“Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly person offense . . .”
This means that you cannot drink at a bar, in your dorm room, at a fraternity or sorority house, or anywhere else on campus. It also means that you cannot drink in public or at an off-campus party. You cannot have alcohol in your fridge, car, on your person, or anywhere else if you are under 21.
New Jersey has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country that apply whether you are over or under 21. It is also a “zero tolerance” state, which means that any amount of alcohol in your blood is enough to justify a DUI arrest if you are underage.
Under Section 39:4-50.14 of the New Jersey Statutes, if you are arrested for an underage DUI while attending college in New Jersey, you will lose your license for at least 30 days and be required to perform at least 15 days of community service. These are in addition to the standard penalties for a DUI under New Jersey law.
The penalties for underage drinking in New Jersey depend on the specific crime with which you are charged and the specific circumstances surrounding your arrest. However, in general terms, the potential penalties for underage alcohol-related offenses in New Jersey are as follows:
As a college student, the consequences of any arrest or conviction can extend far beyond the statutory penalties. You will also likely face disciplinary action at school, which could lead to suspension, expulsion, or other consequences. Having a record will also impact your job prospects after you graduate, and this could have financial ramifications for years to come.
If you are an out-of-state student attending college in New Jersey, you can still be prosecuted and sentenced in the New Jersey courts. The New Jersey courts can suspend your driving privileges in the state, and they can submit a report to your state’s motor vehicle department, which may result in complete loss of driving privileges. All other penalties (and other consequences) apply regardless of where you permanently reside.
Are you facing an underage drinking charge as a college student? If so, we can help. To speak with an experienced New Jersey underage drinking lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how to reach you online now.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.