Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Law - Immunity for Underage Drinking in Certain Circumstances

New law: The governor’s has signed into law an amendment to NJSA 2C:33-15 that will provide statutory immunity to certain individuals who consume alcoholic beverages while under the legal age to do so.

NJSA 2C:33-15 generally prohibits either the consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage by a person under the age of 21. The offense is a disorderly persons’ offense and carries a minimum fine of $500. Conviction also requires a six-month suspension of driving privileges when the offense occurs in a motor vehicle.

Under the amendment that goes into effect today, a statutory immunity will apply when:

(1) one of the underage persons called 9-1-1 and reported that another underage person was in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption; (2) the underage person who called 9-1-1 and, if applicable, one or two other persons acting in concert with the underage person who called 9-1-1 provided each of their names to the 9-1-1 operator; (3) the underage person was the first person to make the 9-1-1 report; and (4) the underage person and, if applicable, one or two other persons acting in concert with the underage person who made the 9-1-1 call remained on the scene with the person under the legal age in need of medical assistance until assistance arrived and cooperated with medical assistance and law enforcement personnel on the scene. The underage person who received medical assistance also shall [also] be immune from prosecution under NJSA 2C:33-15.The amendment is intended to encourage the intervention of emergency rescue personnel in instances where intoxication has resulted in illness.

What does this mean to you or your child? If you or your child has consumed alcohol while under the age of 21 and is with another person under 21 who has consumed alcohol and requires medical attention, you or your child (and friends) should not fear calling 911 to get help for the sick friend. The person reporting, person who is ill, and any friends who are there with them will be immune from prosecution under this statute if, and only if, they call 911, are the first to report the illness to 911, stay with the sick friend until help arrives, and cooperate with medical personnel and police on the scene.


  1. Thank you, I try! More will be coming; there was a slight lag while I was awaiting my new power adapter; a storm fried my old one. The sacrifice of the adapter, though, saved the laptop, so I can't complain.

  2. This is an interesting statute. I would be interested in seeing how well this works out. I suppose if they advertise it properly and make the kids understand they won't get in trouble if they call 911 then it could work. I would think there are still going to be kids worried about punishment.
    It is definitely interesting and if it actually works to save lives then kudos to the Government.

  3. Actually, PSAs to this effect aren't a bad idea.

    Kids may still worry about being prosecuted, or certainly about getting in trouble with their parents, but I do applaud NJ's effort to save lives with this immunity.

    It's definitely worth a shot.


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