Many young people who are not of legal drinking age are charged with driving under the influence in New Jersey each year. It is important for young people to understand how the law in the state treats underage drinking and driving.
Like many other states, New Jersey has a zero tolerance policy codified into the law about underage drinking and driving. This means that a young person may be prosecuted for drinking and driving if they have any discernible amount of alcohol in their systems, even if they are not drunk. Prosecutions can occur for amounts as little as 0.1 percent BAC.
If a person is convicted of underage drinking and driving, the law takes a harsh approach. If the alcohol was purchased in a place that has a license to sell alcohol, the person may lose their driver's license for six months and be required to pay a $500 fine. Those who obtained alcohol from another person may lose their license from 30 to 90 days, be ordered to complete 15 to 30 days of community service and undergo an alcohol treatment and education program.
Underage drinking, while prevalent, may lead to a person's getting an unwanted criminal record. Simply being charged with such an offense is not evidence that the person is guilty of it, however. A young person who is charged with underage drinking and driving under the state's zero-tolerance law may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney. Legal counsel may be able to examine the relevant facts to determine whether there were constitutional problems with the manner in which the traffic stop occurred. An attorney may also be able to identify other potential defenses to the charges, including a challenge to the results of a roadside sobriety test.