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Underage Drinking

Underage drinking presents an enormous public health issue.  Alcohol is the drug of choice among children and adolescents, and underage drinking is the number one drug problem among the nation's youth. As a parent or caregiver, you play a vital role in influencing your child's attitudes and behaviors.  You serve as a role model on the use of alcohol, control the availability of alcohol in you home, and help set your child's expectations concerning drinking behaviors. Some parents believe that its safer for their teens to drink at home than to drink anywhere else.  Other adults, including some parents, mistakenly think that underage drinking is part of growing up.  In New Jersey, under social host liability laws, adults who serve or supply alcohol to persons under the age of 21 can be held liable if any of those underage persons are killed or injured. Parents who break these laws could be charged for medical bills and property damage and could be sued for emotional pain and suffering. In addition to lawsuits, parents in New Jersey may find themselves subject to criminal prosecution for underage drinking by their teen and their teen's friends. (see exemptions under 2C:33-17b, and Woodcliff Lake Borough Ordinance 179-27) In addition, parents may be held responsible even if they're not at home when underage drinking occurs.  They may also be held responsible if underage drinking takes place anywhere on their property. New Jersey has a number of laws related to underage drinking. These laws are intended to prevent persons under 21 years of age from obtaining, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages and from driving if they have consumed any amount of alcohol.

Underage drinking is illegal, unhealthy, and unacceptable. A recent study shows that children whose parents are involved in their lives--hold regular conversations, attend after school events, and listen to their problems, are less likely to drink or smoke.
Providing Alcohol to Persons Under 21
It is a criminal offense in the State of New Jersey (2C:33-17a) to serve alcohol to anyone under the legal age of 21.
  • A fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment.