New Statutory Immunity for Under-Age Drinkers Signed into Law

[10/02/09 – 10”45 pm] 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.

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