UNDERAGE DRINKING

 

Underage drinking presents an enormous public health issue.  Alcohol is the drug of choice among children and adolescents, and underage drinking is the number one drug problem among the nation's youth. 

As a parent or caregiver, you play a vital role in influencing your child's attitudes and behaviors.  You serve as a role model on the use of alcohol, control the availability of alcohol in you home, and help set your child's expectations concerning drinking behaviors.

Some parents believe that its safer for their teens to drink at home than to drink anywhere else.  Other adults, including some parents, mistakenly think that underage drinking is part of growing up.  In New Jersey, under social host liability laws, adults who serve or supply alcohol to persons under the age of 21 can be held liable if any of those underage persons are killed or injured. Parents who break these laws could be charged for medical bills and property damage and could be sued for emotional pain and suffering.

In addition to lawsuits, parents in New Jersey may find themselves subject to criminal prosecution for underage drinking by their teen and their teen's friends. (see exemptions under 2C:33-17b, and Woodcliff Lake Borough Ordinance 179-27) In addition, parents may be held responsible even if they're not at home when underage drinking occurs.  They may also be held responsible if underage drinking takes place anywhere on their property.

New Jersey has a number of laws related to underage drinking.  These laws are intended to prevent persons under 21 years of age from obtaining, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages and from driving if they have consumed any amount of alcohol:  

Providing Alcohol to Persons Under 21

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C:33-17a) to serve alcohol to anyone under the legal age of 21. 

 

Allowing Alcohol Possession or Consumption by Persons Under 21 at Private Premises 

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C:33-17b) to make your home or property available for the purpose of allowing minors a place to consume alcohol.

(Exemptions:  Any underage person or persons who possesses or consumes alcoholic beverages in connection with religious observance, ceremony or right or consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage in the presence of and with the permission of the parent , guardian, or relative who has attained the legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages.)

 

Consumption or Possession of Alcohol by Persons Under 21.

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C:33-15) for 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 public assembly, or motor vehicle.

 

Consumption or Possession of Alcohol by Persons Under 21.

Our Borough ordinance prohibits the possession (actual or constructive), or consumption of alcohol on private property for individuals under 21 years of age.  Parents are urged to instruct their underage children to immediately leave a party where alcohol or illegal drugs are available to them.  Failure to do so will result in charges, even if they did not consume alcohol.

(Exemptions:  Any underage person or persons who possesses or consumes alcoholic beverages in connection with religious observance, ceremony or right or consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage in the presence of and with the permission of the parent , guardian, or relative who has attained the legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages.)

 

Unauthorized Bringing of Alcoholic Beverages Onto School Premises

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey  for any person of legal age to bring or possess alcoholic beverages on any property used for school purposes which is owned by any school or school board.

 

Possession, Use or Being Under the Influence, or Failure to Make Lawful Disposition

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C: 35-10) for any person knowingly or purposely, to obtain , or to possess actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.

      

Resisting Arrest: Eluding Officer

It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C: 29-2) for a person to purposely prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting a lawful arrest.

 

Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution

A person commits an offense(2C:29-3) if with purpose to hinder the detention, apprehension, investigation, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for any crime or motor vehicle violation.

 

Employing a Juvenile in the Commission of a Crime

Any person who is a least 18 years of age who knowingly uses, solicits, directs, hires, employs, or conspires with a person who is in fact 17 years of age or younger to commit a criminal offense is guilty of a crime.(2C:24-9)

 

Drug possession by motor vehicle operator

No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway( 39:4-49.1) while knowingly having in his possession or in the motor vehicle any controlled dangerous substance.

 

No consumption of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles

A person shall not consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle.  A passenger in a motor vehicle shall not consume an alcoholic beverage while the motor vehicle is being operated.( 39:4-51a)

 

Prohibition of possession of open , unsealed alcoholic beverage container

All occupants of a motor vehicle located on a public highway, or right of way of a public highway, shall be prohibited from possessing any open or unsealed alcoholic beverage container.(39:4-51b)

 

   Mandatory Forfeiture or Postponement of Driving Privileges

Every person convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a violation of certain offenses (2C:35-16) shall forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period to be fixed by the Court at not less than 6 months or more than 2 years which shall commence on the day the sentence is imposed.

  

Underage drinking is illegal, unhealthy, and unacceptable. A recent study shows that children whose parents are involved in their lives--hold regular conversations, attend after school events, and listen to their problems, are less likely to drink or smoke.

 

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