Facing Criminal Charges?

Your Reputation, Finances And Freedom Are On The Line.

New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer and DUI/DWI Defense Attorney

Have you been charged with Underage Drinking in New Jersey? Whether you are drinking and driving or simply under the age of 21 and in possession of alcohol, Underage Drinking in New Jersey is a serious offense and under certain circumstances can even lead to being charged as an adult.

If you have been charged with Underage Drinking, you are probably wondering about the affect these charges will have on your life, but however uncertain your future may be, one thing is for sure. You need an attorney. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, partner at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, a Union County Defense Attorney, experienced former prosecutor and current public defender.

I understand the troubles you are facing, I have handled many cases of this type in the 35 years I have been practicing criminal defense law and I can help you resolve them. Contact me today at 908-643-6801 for a free initial consultation. Our firm defends individuals throughout New Jersey including Union County, Monmouth County, Somerset County, Morris County, Middlesex County and including the communities of Elizabeth, Newark, Plainfield, and Berkley.

Underage Drinking and Driving in New Jersey

The laws for Underage Drinking in New Jersey depend on whether you are in possession of alcohol, consuming alcohol, or drinking and driving. The laws for Underage Drinking and Driving in New Jersey may be found under N.J.S.A. 39:40-15.14, while those for Underage Possession and Consumption may be found under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15. While this page is in no way a replacement to the valuable role an attorney can play in your case, it should answer some of your immediate questions by explaining the various offenses and their penalties, as well as providing answers to common FAQs.

Charges and Penalties

The charges and penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving in New Jersey depend on a person’s blood alcohol content or (“BAC”) when they are arrested. The higher an individual’s BAC while driving, the greater the consequences will be. It is important to note that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have any alcohol in their system. Let’s take a look at the following charges and penalties that apply when someone under the age of 21 is charged with Underage Drinking and Driving.

BAC 0.01% or more, but under 0.08%

When a person’s BAC is between 0.01% and 0.08%, that person is guilty of Underage Drinking and Driving and is subject to penalties of:

  • 30 to 90 day license suspension
  • 15-30 days of community service

If their BAC is between .01% and .08%, they will be charged as a Juvenile and the case will be handled in Juvenile Court.

BAC over 0.08%

When a person’s BAC is over 0.08% this will result in that individual being charged as an adult under the standard DUI/DWI laws in New Jersey which apply to adults.

In addition to the penalties above, someone under the age of 21 who is convicted of Underage Drinking and Driving must complete the requirements of an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or participate in some other alcohol education program. Additional fees for these programs will apply.

Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol in New Jersey

Another Underage Drinking offense involves the consumption or possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. Under New Jersey law, anyone under the age of 21 who knowingly consumes alcohol is guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and faces penalties of:

  • Up to 6 months suspended driver’s license
  • At least $500 in fines

Common Questions & Answers

I was caught drinking and driving when stopped by a police roadblock. Is this a violation of my constitutional rights?

  • Usually not. In general, it is not a violation of your rights to be stopped at roadblocks so long as the police follow certain procedures that respect your rights. However, there are certain circumstances where officers exercise too much authority when setting up roadblocks and that can be a violation of your rights. Each case is unique and whether your rights have been violated is determined by the facts of the individual case. An experienced defense attorney will be able to easily identify if your rights have been violated, and if so, may be able to have the evidence against you removed from court.

What happens if I refuse the breathalyzer? Will it be better for my case?

  • No. Under New Jersey law, you consented to the breathalyzer by simply driving on the road and do not have the right to refuse it. However, in State v. Ravutto, 169 N.J. 227 (2001), the NJ court held that police cannot force you to physically take the test against your will. If you refuse, the police will simply advise you of the penalty for refusing.

I asked for an attorney when I was stopped, but the police refused to provide me with one. Was this a violation of my rights?

  • No. You do not have a right to an attorney when you are stopped or arrested for drinking and driving because under the laws of New Jersey, you have committed a motor vehicle offense, not a criminal offense. A criminal offense carries the right to an attorney. However, as soon as you have the chance, you should contact an attorney. The sooner an attorney can start handling your case, the better.

I heard my charge will be heard before a judge and not a jury. Is this true?

  • Yes. You do not have the right to a jury trial when charged with a DUI/DWI because this is not a criminal offense. Instead, you will be tried before a single municipal court judge. Despite any reservations you may have about this, sometimes it can be better to have your case heard before a judge. Judges can be more objective and may treat you more fairly than juries which often sentence people based on their personal feelings and past experiences.

In addition to my 35 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, I am also a former prosecutor. Working on both sides of the law has helped me obtain countless downgrades or dismissals for clients accused of Underage Drinking. I know what the prosecution needs for a conviction, I know how to negotiate with prosecutors for lesser charges or dismissals and I will do everything within my power to ensure the lightest penalty possible. Contact me today for a free initial consultation at 908-643-6801 , and let’s see what I can do for you.

I also defend charges of: