In addition to being charged with underage DUI/DWI, an underage drinker may also be charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, a disorderly persons offense, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-15. Pursuant to this statute, a person under the age of 21 who consumes or possesses alcohol in a motor vehicle, including passengers, may be charged with having violated this statute. Penalties include up to six months in jail, a six-month license suspension, and a fine in excess of $500.00. If a driver that is not yet eligible to obtain a driver’s license is convicted of any alcohol related offense, the suspension period starts when the driver becomes eligible. As a consequence, the license application is delayed until the period of suspension has passed.
A conviction of any alcohol related offense can negatively impact a teen’s future. Since many colleges and universities perform background checks, a DUI/DWI or disorderly persons conviction may prompt the college or university to decline the application for admission and/or scholarship(s). Similarly, a potential employer may decline to offer employment. Additionally, a DUI/DWI conviction will result in substantially higher insurance premiums or a denial of insurance coverage.
There are many defenses available for underage DUI/DWI charges in New Jersey. If an underage person is charged with a minimal B.A.C. reading of 0.01%, an attorney could challenge the reading as there are a number of substances other than alcohol that could trigger a minimal B.A.C. reading. If your child is charged with an underage drinking violation, contact Gwendolyn O. Austin, Esq. at (973) 735-2706 or online to discuss your child’s options.