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- Gabriel V.

Sea Girt New Jersey Underage Drinking Lawyer

alcohol, beer, beer bottleThe legal age to consume or possess alcohol in New Jersey is 21 years old. Those who haven't yet passed their twenty-first birthday violate the law if they have alcohol in their possession or consume it in public. There are some exceptions to the law. Employees in a job that involves handling alcohol—a bar, restaurant, or hotel—are allowed to possess alcohol for work-related activities. Religious observations that involve the consumption of some alcohol are excluded from the law, as well.

But there have been recent changes in how the law is enforced in New Jersey. While the law forbids anyone under 21 from having alcohol in their possession, and the police in Sea Girt can intervene if they find underage drinking happening, there are no criminal penalties with the law as currently written. Even though you won't face criminal charges, though, you can still have an interaction with law enforcement that gets you a written warning for the offense of underage alcohol consumption.

If you find yourself in an underage drinking situation, our Sea Girt underage drinking lawyers can help. At Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates, our attorneys are experienced and highly knowledgeable about underage drinking. Skilled criminal defense attorney Tara Breslow-Testa advocates for her clients from the beginning to the end of their cases. She knows her clients’ needs are important and strives to ensure she meets their needs with care. Contact us by calling today at (732) 784-2880 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.

Underage Drinking is Illegal

Although there have been recent changes in how the law is enforced, New Jersey law still lists the types of places where alcohol possession by anyone under 21 is forbidden, including:

  • School
  • Public transportation
  • Any public place, like a park, beach, or the street
  • Places of public assembly
  • A car or motorcycle
Warnings for Offenses

Under the law, before 2021, an underage drinker in Sea Girt could be charged with a disorderly persons offense. The new law says that an underage drinker must get a written warning from the police if caught. Police will send a copy of the warning to a parent, guardian, or person with legal custody of a teenager under 18.

A second violation is also noted with a written warning, like that issued for the first violation. The second warning will include information about accessing community and social services related to alcohol consumption, such as:

  • Alcohol abuse counseling
  • Mentoring services
  • Community or religious organizations that deal with alcohol use

For those under 18, the second warning and social services information is also transmitted to the teen's parent or guardian.

On a third or subsequent violation, the process is very similar. The officer can issue a write-up and provide the underage drinker with information about social services related to alcohol consumption. For the third instance and after that, the police are to also provide the personal contact information of the violator to the community or social service organization. The law allows the underage drinker's contact details to be provided to the alcohol education or treatment program's office so they can contact the person who violated the law.

Although the community or social group can contact the person caught with alcohol while under the legal drinking age, the person has no obligation to follow through with any type of treatment or counseling or take any other action. The law specifies that there are no legal consequences or penalties for failure to engage in any education or counseling as recommended by the police officer.

No Further Action by Law Enforcement

While the police can stop an underage drinker and issue the warnings discussed above, they have no power to use the opportunity to conduct a full search of the underage drinker, their property, or their vehicle. Police are expressly forbidden in the new law from relying on an odor of alcohol, or even the open possession of alcohol by a minor, as reasonable suspicion to allow the officer to conduct a stop. Neither is the presence or odor of alcohol considered probable cause to search the person.

Get Legal Answers From a Sea Girt Underage Drinking Lawyer

Even though law enforcement against underage drinking will change substantially under the new law, underage drinking is still against the law. If you, or your teen, have run into problems with the law and received a written warning under the new legal system, you should consult with an attorney about the potential effects of the action on your rights. While the law is written to strongly protect the underage drinker from being dragged further into the legal system for a simple underage drinking offense, there are still legal questions that you may have after an encounter with the police.

To ensure your future is not at stake after an alleged underage drinking incident, contact the attorneys at Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates. Our Sea Girt underage drinking attorneys can help you understand your rights and defenses. Lending her expertise to each case, criminal defense attorney Tara Breslow-Testa advocates for every client at the firm. She personally handles their cases from start to finish, ensuring each client gets the attention they deserve. Contact us by calling today at (732) 784-2880 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.

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