Trenton – In an effort to crack down on the prevalence of underage drinking in public places, the Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation to enhance penalties for the underage possession and consumption of alcohol in public.
“In the last two years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of public parties involving underage drinking, particularly at the Jersey Shore,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden/Burlington). “These public gatherings have too often resulted in over-drinking, assaults, and other incidents that have put public safety at risk. Because current law imposes no penalties on youth who drink in public, law enforcement has had difficulty disrupting these gatherings, and some youth have blatantly disregarded law enforcement directions.
“This legislation establishes reasonable penalties to hold underage persons who drink in public accountable and strikes an appropriate balance between giving law enforcement the tools they need to ensure public safety, while avoiding the unnecessary criminalization of underage possession of alcohol.”
Under the bill, S-3954, any person under 21 who possesses or consumes alcohol in a school, public conveyance, public place, place of public assembly, or motor vehicle would be charged with a violation on a complaint-summons and be subject to a $50 fine.