Underage drinking and driving: Serious crime, serious penalties

Underage drinking and driving: Serious crime, serious penalties

New Jersey law does not look favorably upon underage drinking, and any individual facing these charges would be wise to take them seriously. State law says that any individual who possesses, consumes or purchases alcohol must be 21 years of age or older, and the violation of these laws can bring serious consequences.

If you are a minor and are currently facing charges related to underage drinking, this is more than a mistake that will just go away. Your future and freedom are on the line, but a conviction or a guilty plea is not your only option.

The consequences that can change your life

There are various types of consequences for those who drink or purchase alcohol as a minor. Some the charges and penalties commonly levied against minors for alcohol-related infractions include:

  • Purchase of alcohol: If you are under the age of 21 and purchase alcohol, you could face a fine of $500 and lose your license for six months. You may also have to participate in an alcohol treatment program.
  • Drinking and driving: If you are a minor and caught with any discernible amount of alcohol in your system, penalties could include loss of your driving privileges for up to 90 days, an alcohol treatment program and required community service.

Per New Jersey’s zero tolerance law, minors could face arrest and charges if they have any amount of alcohol in their system while behind the wheel of a vehicle, even if it is well below .08 percent. Even a BAC of .01 percent could lead to arrest if you are too young to drink.

The far-reaching impact of underage drinking

You may have made a one-time mistake involving alcohol, but that does not mean that the consequences will not have a negative impact on various areas of your life. Consider how an alcohol-related crime could affect you in the following ways:

  • You could lose your scholarships and other educational opportunities.
  • You may be suspended or expelled from school.
  • You could find it difficult to get jobs in the future.
  • You may face certain stigma and negativity in your social life.

The cost of underage drinking and driving is more than just an inconvenience. Therefore, it can be beneficial to secure defense counsel as soon as possible after an arrest in order to effectively confront these charges, possibly mitigate some of the consequences and ensure the full protection of your rights and interests.