Under-Age Drinking in NJ
Criminal Code ViolationsYup, if you are charged under NJSA 2C:33-15, the offense you are charged with is a Criminal Offense, graded as a Disorderly Persons Offense. If you are over the age of 18, you will end up in Municipal Court, where the direct sentencing consequences include a fine of not less then $500.00 (plus other financial penalties); the possibility of a loss of your driver's license for a 6 month period; and, you may be required to complete an alcohol education program. The worst collateral consequence, is the fact that the conviction cannot be expunged from your record for 5 years. Not something an employer wants to see when they are running a record check on their employee. As a minor (under the age of 18), the result can be an adjudication of delinquency. If you are charged under this statute, discuss the facts with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can advise you on how to develop a defense or a mitigating sentencing argument to avoid the worst of these consequences.
Motor Vehicle ViolationsIf you are charged with NJSA 39:4-50.14, you are charged with a Motor Vehicle violation, which is not in the Criminal Code, but rather in the Motor Vehicle Code. A licensed driver will lose their license for a period of 30-90 days if convicted. An unlicensed driver will lose the right to get their license for the same time periods, starting on the day they are eligible to get a license. In addition the Court will impose a 15-30 day period of community service and the completion of an alcohol education program. The collateral consequence, is that this will stay on your driving abstract forever. It cannot be expunged. As another consideration, the statute specifically permits the Court to find you guilty under both of these provisions (the Criminal and the MV) and sentence you to these in addition to the consequences for the criminal code violation. If you have gotten charged with both of these offenses, talk to your lawyer about trying to get at least one dismissed as part of a plea.