The Township of Lacey now has an ordinance specifically prohibiting the possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by persons under the legal age of twenty-one while on “private property.” It has always been unlawful for an underage person to consume alcoholic beverages on “public property” under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15.
This new ordinance fills the void left in the state law by prohibiting underage possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages in a private residence. The limited exceptions (e.g., in the presence of a parent/guardian) provided in the state statute are also applicable in the township ordinance. This ordinance will allow for the formal charging of persons under age twenty-one who possess and/or consume alcoholic beverages at a house party. Prior to the passage of the ordinance, law enforcement responding to a call of a house party could not charge the “underage drinkers” with an offense, despite the public’s expectation that assertive action be taken to hold “underage drinkers” accountable. The ordinance provides accountability that otherwise did not exist under the state law.