The summer is here. School is out. You have so much free time! Graduation parties to attend every weekend. Barbecues all summer long. Liquor is everywhere, you aren’t 21 yet but it is so tempting, everyone else is doing it. You have a few beers, a few cocktails, the party is over and you feel okay to drive. Just a mile before you get home you are stopped by a police officer. He makes you recite the alphabet backwards, follow his finger with your eyes, and before you know it you are blowing into the breathalyzer contraption. Now you are sitting in jail facing drunk driving charges, all because of peer pressure and a good time.
In the State of New Jersey, a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher constitutes a DWI offense. However, if you are under the legal drinking age of 21, even a BAC of .08% or less will land you a DWI charge.
If you are under the age of 21, drinking and driving can lead to the loss or suspension of your license for at least 6 months. If you are caught drinking in a car and you do not yet have your license, your license will be suspended for 6 months as soon as you are eligible to receive your license. Even if you are from another state and caught drinking and driving in the State of New Jersey, your driving privileges in the State of New Jersey will be suspended for 6 months. You can even be mandated to participate in alcohol education or treatment programs, community service or pay heavy fines. In New Jersey, a DWI is not a criminal offense so you do not get a jury trial.
§ 2C:33-15. Possession, consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under legal age; penalty
a. 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 persons offense, and shall be fined not less than $ 500.00.
b. Whenever this offense is committed in a motor vehicle, the court shall, in addition to the sentence authorized for the offense, suspend or postpone for six months the driving privilege of the defendant.
Possession or consumption of alcohol, even when not operating a motor vehicle, is illegal in New Jersey if you are under 21 years of age. In some areas of New Jersey it is even illegal to possess or consume alcohol under the age of 21 if you are on PRIVATE property. So even if you are in someone’s backyard for their barbecue, if they live in one of these areas you can still be charged with this offense. A charge of a disorderly persons offense goes on your permanent criminal record and can affect your future education and employment opportunities. In today’s economy many schools and employers do criminal background checks and any offense can disqualify you for acceptance to a college or university or an employment position.
Don’t face these charges alone. At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our criminal defense team attorneys handle thousands of DWI and underage alcohol related charges. With their prosecution backgrounds, our attorneys know the best techniques to defend clients against these charges. Our attorneys can work with the prosecutors and judges to get your charges downgraded or even dropped completely. Every situation is unique and you may have different downgrades available. If you or someone you know is facing underage drinking charges call our office today for your free consultation 732-450-8300.