Teenagers who plan on partying at the Jersey Shore this summer could face tougher penalties if they're caught drinking, according to Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio. But what's behind the proposed changes, and what could happen if teens are caught partying too hard? Here's a breakdown of what parents need to know.
The Ocean City Problem
Cape May County actively discourages underage drinking. However, according to Desiderio, juvenile delinquent behavior and underage drinking are huge problems for the Jersey Shore, particularly in the spring and summer months.
As it stands, the local police believe they have very limited powers to challenge or detain minors on alcohol-related charges. Desiderio draws a clear link between the lack of police powers and juvenile delinquency in Cape May County.
- Marijuana laws, approved in 2021, can stop police officers from detaining minors in possession of alcohol or marijuana.
- A directive from 2020 instructs police officers to give minors “curbside warnings” for drug or alcohol possession rather than taking them into custody and calling their parents. The idea is to educate minors rather than punish them.
Desiderio believes delinquent behavior will only get more disruptive unless police officers have greater powers to intervene.
Proposed Legal Changes
Ocean City Police Chief, Jay Prettyman, agrees with Desiderio's position. He believes the only way that police officers can help keep teenagers – and the local community – safer is by giving officers greater powers to directly challenge drug and alcohol possession. Specifically, Desiderio and other Cape May County representatives call for the following changes.
- Make it easier for officers to search juveniles for suspected drug or alcohol possession
- Empower officers to arrest juveniles in possession of alcohol or drugs
- Allow officers to take juveniles into custody and call their parents to collect them
Prettyman believes officers could resolve up to 70% of juvenile problems in OC if they had more authority to deal with delinquent behavior, specifically underage drinking.
What the Changes Could Mean for Minors
If the proposals become law, it could be easier for officers to challenge, question, or arrest minors in possession of drugs or alcohol. While minors should always respect law enforcement and take responsibility for their behavior, there's a risk the proposals could lead to a higher number of disproportionate charges being made against minors – charges which could significantly affect their career prospects and educational opportunities.
Lento Law Firm | Juvenile Offense Attorney
Is your child facing charges such as underage drinking or juvenile delinquency? The Lento Law Firm can help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have represented countless teenagers facing similar charges, and he's committed to ensuring your child gets the fair hearing they deserve.
Juvenile charges can be serious, and your family needs an attorney on your side who understands how to navigate the system. Experienced NJ attorney Joseph Lento and his expert team are standing by, waiting to help. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or tell him about your case online.