New Jersey Approves Penalties for Underage Drinkers

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-2 to pass a bill imposing $50 fines and summons for those under 21 found with alcohol.

Proponents argue this change aims to tackle chaotic parties in Jersey Shore towns and enforce underage drinking laws.

There’s contention over a shift in policy. Trenton Democrats previously prevented criminal charges and parental notifications for underage drinkers and cannabis users. However, a subsequent law maintained restrictions on charging minors for offenses.

New Jersey Senate panel approves penalties for underage drinkers:

Law Enforcement’s Concerns and Proposed Updates

Republican and law enforcement officials voice concerns about the law’s ambiguity, urging alterations to prevent unintended civil rights charges against officers. The proposed amendment aims to set a higher bar for charges against officers handling minors.

Critics highlight transparency lapses regarding police encounters with minors, as mandated by previous legislation. Advocates argue against involving minors in the criminal justice system for minor substance offenses, claiming fines do not deter substance use.

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Alcohol vs. Marijuana in New Legislation

Questions arise about the bill’s differing treatment of alcohol and marijuana possession among minors, highlighting potential inconsistencies in law enforcement practices.

The Assembly previously supported a similar bill. However, the Senate bill’s potential revenue impact requires scrutiny by the budget committee before a full Senate vote to determine its effect on state tax revenues.

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