Warning! Why You Should Worry about Serving Alcohol to Minors
Maybe it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. After the football game, your son invited some buddies over. Emotions were high as everyone was excited that the team made it to the championship. In fact, you were happy to host the celebration and bought a few six packs. It’s what happens next that is concerning. You now realize that you have every reason to worry about serving alcohol to minors.
It’s not like you didn’t take some relative precautions. You insisted that each of your son’s friends turn over their keys. When one of the young men said they had to leave early, you put him through the proverbial third degree. Once you were assured that the fellow only had one beer, you had no problem letting him leave your house. After all, there was no indication that he was even slightly intoxicated.
Here’s what you might not know about minors who consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. The level of their blood alcohol content (BAC) is irrelevant. However, New Jersey law has different standards for underage people driving after consuming alcohol. The mere fact that the young man left your house after just one beer could cost him his license.
Of course, that’s just one issue. There are also laws concerning serving alcohol to minors. What if there is an accident? Can you be blamed? Is there a chance you could get pulled into a civil lawsuit for someone’s injuries? Are there penalties for providing alcohol to minors?
Serving Alcohol to Minors: The Law
First, consider the laws on making alcoholic beverages available to minors. According to NJSA 2C:33-17, you can be charged with a disorderly person offense for doing so. The statute even addresses the issue of encouraging someone to drink an alcoholic drink that is under the age of 21.
However, there is a caveat. This section of the law does not apply to parents or guardians. For this reason, it would be legal for a parent to offer wine with dinner. Additionally, alcoholic beverages can be used in conjunction with a religious ceremony. However, the parent or guardian must be there to give their permission.
In case you were wondering, the penalties for providing alcohol to an underage minor could include up to $1,000 in fines. Moreover, there’s also the chance that you could land in jail for up to six months.
New Jersey Dram Shop and Social Host Laws
Meanwhile, you could find yourself exposed to a personal injury lawsuit if you serve alcohol to a minor and he or she gets into an automobile accident. For starters, it will be necessary to prove that you served the alcohol. Next, the attorney for the injury victim will need to show that the driver was visibly intoxicated when they left your house.
Something that starts off as an innocent gathering of friends can turn into a nightmare. If you are already facing the consequences associated with serving alcohol to a minor, you need the help of an experienced attorney.
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone will gladly meet with you to discuss any of your concerns associated with underage drinking and any role you may have played in serving alcohol. Contact us to schedule an appointment.