The federal drinking age is 21 and that law is in place for drinking, possessing, as well as the purchasing of any alcohol. Underage drinking is not only illegal in this country but it is also a serious and dangerous crime especially when it comes to them being behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is because of this that the federal government has put into place “zero tolerance” laws which state if you are underage it does not matter the amount of alcohol you have consumed before you got behind the wheel as any amount of alcohol in a minor’s system regardless of their ability to drive is considered to be illegal. These federal laws are in place throughout the country but certain states have their own laws and penalties for dealing with underage drinking and New Jersey is no different.
Penalties for Having Alcohol in your System as an Underage Driver in New Jersey
If you are under 21 years of age there is no detectable amount of alcohol allowed in your system when you are driving. This means that even if a blood alcohol level of .01 is found in your system (as compared to .08 for someone 21 or over) then you have violated New Jersey’s zero tolerance law and will have to deal with the penalties that will be enforced because of this. These penalties are:
- Loss or postponement of driving privileges from 30 to 90 days
- 15 to 30 days of community service
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol and traffic safety education program.
In addition, the penalties can be even more severe depending on whether or not the blood alcohol level is excessive or if your behavior resulted in an accident or injury of some sort. These penalties could include:
Imprisonment from 2-90 days
Fines – $500- $1000
Suspension of license for up to two years
All of these are examples of why it is so important to have an experienced attorney to help guide you through this difficult situation.
A minor’s license can be suspended on the spot for having any amount of alcohol in their system but it can also be suspended if they refuse to take a blood test or a Breathalyzer. New Jersey has“Implied Consent” laws which state that if anyone behind the wheel of an automobile is lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated then the consent to taking a test of your breath to determine your blood alcohol content is automatic. This test must be taken at the time of your arrest although you should be aware that legally you cannot be forced to take one, so you can decide to refuse the test just know that by being behind the wheel of a car in New Jersey you have already given your Implied Consent. If this is your first offense you will be given a $300 to $500 fine along with a suspended license of at least 7 months to over a year with increasing penalties with each additional offense. All of this obviously relates to the extent of your circumstances as the more severe the infractions the more severe the penalties you will receive.
Underage DUI/DWI is a Serious Crime: Contact a Knowledgeable New Jersey Attorney Today
With federal and state laws in place to try and stop underage drinking if you find yourself in a situation such as this you will need a qualified attorney like Stephen R. Piper to stand up and fight for you in court. Contact us for an initial consultation today.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.