In order to purchase or possess alcohol in the state of New Jersey, one has to be at least 21 years old. The only times it is deemed acceptable for anyone younger than that to consume alcohol is if it is for religious purposes or is done in a private setting under parental supervision -- such as one's residence. Underage drinkers who find themselves facing DUI charges could face some significant consequences if they are ultimately convicted.
The state of New Jersey has zero tolerance laws. First and foremost, this means that drinking and driving is prohibited -- no matter one's age. Anyone found behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher will likely be arrested. When it comes to underage drinking, the BAC level does not matter. Any trace of alcohol in the system of a person under the age of 21 could warrant an arrest and DUI charge.
Underage zero tolerance laws were put in place because too many 15 to 20-year-olds are dying in auto collisions where alcohol is a contributing factor. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these laws have helped reduce the number of fatal collisions seen involving those under the age of 21. There is a good reason for these laws, but having them in place also means some young individuals may face DUI charges and associated consequences that seem extreme under the circumstances. Such penalties may include jail time, loss of driving privileges, community service and fines -- among others.
Young adults and teenagers in the state of New Jersey who are facing underage DUI charges do have the right to a criminal defense. With the right assistance, it may be possible to seek a case dismissal or at least a reduction in charges and penalties. An experienced attorney will have the ability to review the details of one's case, offer guidance on how to proceed and fight to achieve the best outcome possible.