Various youth organizations have been pushing for an amnesty provision under the New Jersey Underage Drinking Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15. Currently, a minor is guilty of a Disorderly Persons Offense if he or she possesses or consumes alcohol while being under the legal drinking age of 21 years old. While such a violation is not a crime, a conviction nevertheless gives rise to a record.
The Legislature of NJ is considering an exception under the statute for those who are “outed” as a result of calling for police assistance. The proposal would grant immunity to those under 21 if they call police because another underage drinker needs medical assistance. Proponents claim that the exception is needed to eliminate the chilling effect which currently exists for those underage to summon the police.
Underage drinking arrests are on the rise in NJ. Police are aggressive in enforcing N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 and I think that some even see this as an opportunity to attack other issues. The honest truth is, however, that our attorneys are overwhelmingly successful in getting these offenses downgraded and/or dismissed under the current law.