In New Jersey, underage drinking is a frequent concern. Given the number or beaches, vacation spots and colleges in the state, this is not surprising. However, there is spirited debate on how to address alcohol-related issues with those who are under 21.
To try and dissuade underage people from indulging in alcohol, the state is preparing to move forward with worsened penalties for the simple act of possession of alcohol. This might not seem to be a serious offense, but any encounter with law enforcement can be problematic and escalate. People need to know the value of a viable defense.
Debate is ongoing over proposed underage alcohol possession law
A bill was approved by a state Senate panel to issue a $50 fine to people under 21 who are in possession of alcohol. They will also receive a complaint summons. This is generally the same as a disorderly persons offense. The panel passed the bill overwhelmingly.
The objective is to prevent young people from getting out of control on beaches and resort areas. Many of these areas are prone to having underage drinkers. Parents would be notified in writing if the person is under 18. There is support and opposition for this law and it is not certain to pass.
Some worry that those who are generally law-abiding and are caught with alcohol while underage could be put in the criminal justice system over what is generally a minor transgression. Others want to send the message that underage possession is illegal and has consequences.
Any criminal charge can cause challenges
Whether it is possession of alcohol while underage, an allegation of driving under the influence or any other alcohol-related offense, it is vital to know how to combat the charges and avoid any long-term ramifications.
Any criminal charge and conviction is worrisome, but for young people just starting out in life, it can hinder their efforts to find employment or suitable housing.