Toms River is home to more than 90,000 residents, many of which are under the age of 21. This statistic is not surprising as the school system and recreation system are some of the best in the state. It is no secret that being “underage” has not always deterred those who are from drinking alcohol. American culture is replete with iconography of individuals drinking adult beverages before reaching the ripe age of 21. In fact, one could argue that it is a “rite of passage” of sorts. In other words, this form of civil disobedience is not going anywhere. New Jersey is similar to most states in its application of underage drinking law. Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we know that people from all walks of life have, themselves, faced underage drinking liability, or have children who have. Our defense lawyers have appeared in Toms River Municipal Court on many occasions for such matters, with much success. Some common intersections of underage individuals and drinking offenses are Underage Drinking, Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, and underage DWI/DUI.
Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
Given the prevalence of teenagers and parties in Toms River, even when young men and woman are not drinking, they are often in the company of others who are. You should know that New Jersey has a statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, which provides that a minor is guilty of a disorderly persons offense if he possesses alcohol. This is a unique offense because the individual can be guilty even if he did not drink anything at all. Additionally, the penalties increase if the possession is within a motor vehicle. Our lawyers can inform you of the possible defenses and the legal doctrines (e.g., actual and constructive possession) which we have used to our clients’ advantage. We have had much success dismissing such charges.
It is probably no surprise that underage persons in Toms River drink alcohol from time to time. Even careful youngsters sometimes end up drinking something that they did not realize had alcohol in it. In an effort to protect its young people from themselves, Toms River rigorously prosecutes those who break this law as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15. Similar to the possession provision, the penalties are increased when a motor vehicle is involved. Our attorneys have much experience winning cases for underage drinking. It is our experience that police often “round up” a group of youngsters when there is an alcohol-related incident. Retain our services to make sure you or your child is not “lumped in” with a group under these circumstances.
Underage Drunk Driving
In what may be a surprising outcome, drunk driving law is more broadly applied to youngsters than it is for adults. This means that it is easier for the Toms River prosecutor to convict an underage person of DWI than it is for the prosecutor to convict someone who is over the age of 21. The reason for this is simple-there is a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. So, if someone is under 21 and drives a motor vehicle while there is any alcohol in his system, he is guilty of an underage DWI. While this may seem extreme, the relevant statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14, provides for lesser penalties when the perpetrator is underage than when he is of age. Our criminal defense attorneys can make sure that you are not taken advantage of if you are underage. For instance, if a conviction is certain, we will make sure that it is based on the less severe penalties associated with underage DWI, as opposed to the traditional DWI.
Many career paths these days do not limit their background checks to convictions that occurred after reaching adulthood. If you can help it, you do not want a conviction of any kind, even a disorderly persons offense, on your record, no matter what your age was at the time. Each criminal defense has years of experience winning cases involving the charges listed here. Toms River actively pursues individuals who violate underage drinking offenses. Do not hesitate to contact our lawyers us for counsel.