Dailyrecord.com - Towns get tough on underage drinkers




People aged 12 to 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. 
More than 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinking. 
On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. 
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


It is illegal in New Jersey to serve alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age of 21, or even provide a place in your home or property for the underaged to drink. Anyone who makes alcohol available to a person under 21 is subject to a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail per person served. 
Further, if an adult’s serving an underage person results in injury, the adult may be charged with endangering the welfare of children, which carries a fine of up to $15,000 and a prison term of up to five years. 
Also, state law imposes civil liability on social hosts who serve alcohol to anyone under 21 who is subsequently involved in an incident causing injury or death. Social hosts may be sued for up to two years after the injury or death. 
Parents can be held liable through a civil suit even if they are not present during the time of a party in which underage drinking takes place.



It happens all the time, in every community, in every state. New Jersey’s no exception.

The police get called to a loud house party and discover most, if not all, of the people attending are drinking alcohol well before their 21st birthdays.

The dirty little secret is police are powerless when it comes to doling out summonses to whichever 16- or 17-year-old kid they find boozing — that’s because the children are on private property.

Police departments across the state are taking steps to change this. Kinnelon is one example where police have asked the borough council to consider an ordinance that would prohibit the possession and consumption of alcohol by underage persons on private property.

In Morris County, 21 out of 39 municipalities have enacted measures prohibiting those under 21 from consuming alcohol on private property. Somerset County has initiated an effort to get all of its 21 municipalities to adopt the ordinance (to date, nine have done so). Middlesex Borough in Middlesex County has adopted the ordinance, making it the 17th out of 25 municipalities there to do so.

A survey updated in 2009 conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey shows that of the 454 municipalities responding, only 305 have enacted local ordinances and 149 indicated that they have not yet passed such a local ordinance. New Jersey has 566 municipalities.

While the Kinnelon ordinance makes exceptions to underage drinking for religious observations, as well as parents giving consent to their specific child to drink, it would fine underage drinkers $250 for a first-time offense, and $350 for a second offense.

A judge also would have leeway to impose punishment in the form of suspending or postponing the obtainment of a child’s driver’s license for “egregious circumstances” of underage drinking.

“In my experience, in my 21 years as a police officer, kids don’t drink to be social — they drink to get drunk,” said police Lt. John Schwartz, who added the ordinance likely will be discussed during a public meeting in September.