Badge - Rated by Super Lawyers Victor A. Rotolo
Badge - Rated by Super Lawyers Anthony P. Kearns third
Badge - Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Badge - Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forums
Badge - New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Attorney
Badge - New Jersey's Best Lawyers For Families 2018
Badge - AV Preeminent Victor A. Rotolo 2024
Badge - Client Champion Gold 2024
Badge - Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce
Badge - Top 100 The National Trial Lawyers
Please click Award & Selection Criteria & Methodology for information regarding the specific criteria used for selection of each of the above awards.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Some people may think of underage drinking as part of growing up – a rite of passage even for teens navigating the awkward transition from childhood to adulthood. In reality, however, underage drinking is a serious problem that carries severe consequences.

Victor Rotolo successfully argues before the NJ Supreme Court in a case of constitutional import, in which the Court ruled that a DUI conviction cannot be used in any later DUI case for sentencing purposes if, (1) the individual plead or was found guilty, and (2) the individual was not advised of his/her right to counsel and, as to indigent individuals, the right to assigned counsel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens who start drinking at an early age are about seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident than teens who don’t drink. The NHTSA also noted that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers and that underage drivers under the influence of alcohol are involved in about one-fourth of these fatal accidents.

In New Jersey, as in most states throughout the country, you must be at least 21 years old to legally purchase, possess or drink alcohol. Youths who violate this age restriction expose themselves to fines and other penalties under the law. Adults who help them obtain the alcohol are subject to penalties under New Jersey’s social host liability laws.

Penalties for Underage Drinking

Penalties for possessing or drinking alcohol under the age of 21 in New Jersey include fines beginning at $500, community service, and possible mandatory enrollment in a treatment or alcohol education program. If you are caught possessing or drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle, those penalties will also include a suspension of your driving privileges for six months.

For young drivers, the “legal” blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.01%, as opposed to 0.08% for adult drivers. Therefore, drivers under 21 who are caught with even a trace of alcohol in their system face suspension or postponement of their driving privileges for six months. This applies even if you are caught possessing or drinking alcohol before you are eligible for your driver’s license. In that event, the suspension of your driving privileges will continue until six months after your seventeenth birthday.

You could face additional consequences depending upon the circumstances of your individual case. For example, you could face penalties for the use of a fake ID to obtain the alcohol, or you could be held liable for damages you caused while under the influence.

Adults Face Consequences Too

Adults could face lawsuits and possible criminal prosecution if they supply the alcohol and/or allow for underage drinking on property they own, especially in cases where the underage drinking was found to be responsible for injury or death of someone involved.

There are a few exemptions to the underage drinking laws in New Jersey. For instance, it is permissible for a minor to consume alcohol in association with a religious ceremony, observation or right. It is also permissible for parents or legal guardians to serve alcohol to their own teenage children in a private setting as long as the parents or guardians are present. However, it is not okay to serve alcohol to, or permit drinking by, your children’s friends on your property whether or not you are present at the time.

Seek Professional Counsel

Underage drinking is not a right; it is a disorderly persons offense, which in New Jersey is considered a misdemeanor crime. Because of this, it is important to get legal representation if your child is facing such charges.

Through his experience as a prosecutor in Hunterdon County, Anthony Kearns is acquainted with police procedures and practices as is Victor Rotolo, an former officer on the Elizabeth, NJ police force. Both Messrs. Kearns and Rotolo are criminal attorneys experienced in juvenile matters, All the attorneys at Kearns Rotolo Law are your advocates in the courtroom. If you or your child is facing charges related to underage drinking or enabling underage drinking, contact Kearns Rotolo Law today at (908) 534-7900. Our attorneys will work to protect your rights and those of your child.

What Our Clients are Saying

I was very proud to be represented by Tony and felt secure at a time I needed a compass to head out of a difficult bind. Confidence in your counsel and a sense of security in understanding how best to proceed are important reasons to consider Anthony Kearns and his team of outstanding lawyers.

- Lynn

Tony was excellent! He was knowledgeable, responsive and on-time. His experience as a County Prosecutor definitely helped our case as he knows how the legal system works and how to navigate. I highly recommend Tony and his office.

- Matt

Thankfully I found Kearns Rotolo Law and I had a wonderful experience working with Charles Rifici on a difficult divorce/child custody issue. I am so grateful for all the work and guidance he provided. He always took his time and diligently went through all my options with me so I could make the decisions that benefitted my family and I. I will be forever thankful for the top notch services he provided.

- Cinthya

In March of 2022 I contacted Kearns Rotolo Law Firm with an urgent problem, Mr. Kearns and Mr. Rotolo contacted me immediately to give me hope as to rectify my problem. The end result was Mr Kearns was able to solve my issue through extreme professionalism, I am very grateful I found Kearns Rotolo Law firm and I would recommend their law firm to anyone that has a less extreme problem or a more complex problem, I am very grateful for their services.

- Bill

I met with Mr. Kearns yesterday about a devastating situation affecting our family. Mr. Kearns and his entire staff made us feel extremely comfortable and showed our family a compassionate side that gave us comfort in the most uncomfortable of situations. Thank you very much. God Bless.

- Christian