Private Property Ordinance

The Secaucus Coalition for a Healthy and Drug Free Community works to create an environment which will keeps youth healthy and drug free in Secaucus, NJ.  One of the main goals of the coalition is to reduce underage Drinking in the community through educations and environment change.  

 

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Private Property Ordinance

The Secaucus Coalition for a Healthy and Drug Free Community strives to create an environment which will keep youth healthy and drug free in Secaucus, NJ. One of the main goals of the coalition is to reduce Underage Drinking in the community through education, awareness of facts/laws, and environmental change.  

New Jersey State laws prevent minors from purchasing alcohol, drinking in public and allowing adults to serve minors on unlicensed premises. 

Current underage use of alcohol on any school property, public conveyance, public place/assembly or on private property can incur any of these consequences:

Fines of up to $250 for a first offense and $350 for a subsequent offense

Mandatory community service for a period not to exceed 180 days at the discretion of the court

Loss of his/her driver’s license for 6 months (suspension starts when you are first eligible to receive a license)

If necessary, referral to an alcohol treatment program at the defendants expense

 

Facts1

About 1 in 2 teens said it was easy to get alcohol

1 in 4 teens said it was easy to obtain alcohol from their own home or their friend’s home without permission

1 in 6 students said it was easy to get alcohol from their own parents

Despite the New Jersey Law requiring that a person be over 21 years of age to be able to consume alcohol, data shows that minors still have access to alcohol through social sources which is against the law. The goal of municipal and state laws such as those below serve to deter teen use, set appropriate consequences and provide early intervention where needed, ultimately keeping our youth and community safe.  

 

The Problem

Underage Drinking presents an enormous public health issue. Several studies show that alcohol is the number one drug of choice among adolescents. We know that in Secaucus 24% of students have used alcohol, some of them having access to it from their own parents.1 Despite common misconceptions, it is not safer for teens to drink alcohol at home, nor is drinking a part of growing up. 

Scientific evidence from several studies show that the early use of alcohol has a negative impact for adolescents. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration stated that youth who start drinking before the age of are 5x’s more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after the age of 21. One of the possible reasons for this phenomenon is that the adolescent brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, so early consumption of alcohol can have a negative impact on the brain’s developmental stages including an increased number of health related issues later life.2

Secaucus Law

Consequences

 

 

1st offense: parent /guardian shall be subject to a fine of not less than $75 but no more than $100

No parent or guardian of any minor under the age of eighteen (18) years of age shall fail to exercise reasonable parental control over such minor. An adjunction that said minor has violated a provision of this code which is a misdemeanor or a finding that said minor is responsible for a violation of this code which is deemed a civil infraction shall be evidence that said parent or guardian failed to exercise reasonable parental control.

2nd offense: parent /guardian shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100 but no more than $500; and in addition shall be sentenced to probation with the condition that the parent participate in a community based program, or at discretion of the court be imprisoned for up to 30 days.

 

3rd offense: parent /guardian shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200 but no more than $500 and at discretion of the court, be imprisoned for up to 90 days.

 

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more details on the Private Property Ordinance in Secaucus. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Private Property Ordinance?

It’s a law that makes it illegal for any person under the legal age to consume alcoholic drinks in private property. The Private Property Ordinance does not make it against the law to furnish alcohol to individuals under the age of 21. That’s already illegal. The ordinance makes it illegal to provide alcohol on private property, regardless of who provides the alcohol. (Except for religious reasons with permission AND in the presence of that minor’s parent or legal guardian.)

 

How can I report a teenage drinking party?

You can call to report any underage drinking parties anonymously at (201) 867 8000. To share tips and areas of concern, please visit our coalition’s contact us page in our website at www.drugfreesecaucus.org .

 

What happens if I find underage drinkers on my property?

If you discover that underage persons are drinking on your property, you can first ask them to stop. If they refuse, you may have to call the Secaucus Police Department. You are not in violation of the ordinance if you ask for help from them immediately

 

Will a parent face criminal consequences for allowing a minor child to consume alcohol in the privacy of their home?

A parent cannot be charged under the Town of Secaucus Private Property Ordinance if, in their presence, they allow their underage child to consume alcohol in their residence. However, allowing someone else’s child to consume alcohol in their home would be illegal. The host parent may be subject to civil and criminal penalties if that minor or someone else is injured or injures someone else. 

 

How is the Private Property Ordinance enforced? What are the penalties?

When local Secaucus Police Department officers respond to an event where underage persons are gathering and through the normal course of an investigation determine underage alcohol possession or consumption exists, the individual host of the event can be issued a citation and charged with violating the county’s Private Property Ordinance.

Individuals who purposely or knowingly offer or serve or make available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or entices or encourages that person to drink an alcoholic beverage is a disorderly person and shall, upon conviction, be fined $1,000 and/or six months in jail. A person may also be held liable for injuries sustained by third parties as a result of the minor guest’s negligence.

 

Are there any exceptions? 

 

This section shall not apply to an underage person who consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage in connection with a religious observance, ceremony, or rite or to an underage person who consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage in the presence of AND with the permission of a parent or guardian who has attained the legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. For the purposes of this paragraph, a guardian means a person who has qualified as a guardian of the underage person pursuant to testamentary or court appointment.

 

Why should I care about the private property ordinance?

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among youth, which causes harm and death at a very young age. There are also serious health effects and long term costs of underage drinking, threatening public health, safety and quality of life. 

 

 

Can law enforcement enter my house without permission? 

The Town’s Private Property Ordinance does not increase law enforcement’s ability to enter someone’s home or property. The State of New Jersey allows law enforcement to enter a private residence without a search warrant when they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. 

 

Why does this ordinance target parties that occur on private residences and premises?

Parties and gatherings on private property have repeatedly been identified as the primary source by which youth obtain alcohol. Kids obtain alcohol at parties, through friends, older siblings or adults.

 

 

If my child is arrested and found guilty, will this go on his/her permanent record?

Anyone over the age of 18 found guilty providing alcohol to a minor will face charges that will go on their criminal record. 

 

References

These findings are from the 2014 Secaucus student surveys. 

"Underage Drinking | SAMHSA". Samhsa.gov. N.p., 2016. Web.