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Why young people should not make alcohol part of St. Paddy's Day

Today is Saint Patrick's Day, meaning people across the state will be donning green and heading to local events to take part in all manner of festivities celebrating Irish heritage. While the majority of people go to these festivals for the food, the music and the camaraderie, there's no denying that others -- particularly young adults -- go to imbibe.

Although there's certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some green beer, whisky or specialty cocktails in moderation, it goes without saying that those who end up consuming more alcohol than they planned need to ensure they don't get behind the wheel, as law enforcement will be out in full force.

It's not just those young people who are of the legal drinking age who need to proceed with caution this Saint Patrick's Day, but also those under the age of 21.

That's because New Jersey is less than forgiving regarding underage consumption.

Indeed, the Garden State has what is known as a zero tolerance law on the books for underage drinking and driving, meaning that it's against the law for anyone under 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system (i.e., a BAC of .01 or above).

Some of the penalties for underage drinking and driving include the postponement or loss of driving privileges for anywhere from 30-90 days, 15-30 days of community service and completion of an alcohol and traffic safety program.

Just in case those under 21 decide to steer clear of the roads and do their celebrating in a neighborhood pub, they should know that the state takes a similarly dim view of this behavior.

Those underage individuals caught purchasing and consuming alcohol in a licensed establishment face a fine of up to $500 and/or a license suspension of up to six months.

What all of this serves to underscore is that if you do end up making a mistake and are facing some manner of alcohol-related charges, you should seriously consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights -- and your future -- as soon as possible.

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