Private Property Ordinances
Q: Will this ordinance violate privacy rights?
A: No, police must have probable cause before they enter private property, just as they would today. The ordinance would not change or violate any privacy rights. This ordinance would be in effect once police are already on the scene.
Q: Aren't there laws already in place?
A: Serving alcohol to a minor without the permission or presence of a parent is already a disorderly person's offense in the state of New Jersey. What would change under this ordinance is it would become a violation for youth to possess or consume alcohol on private property if their parent has not given permission and is not present.
Q: Will this ordinance tell me how to parent my own child?
A: No it will not. The ordinance would not change a parent's authority over their own children. If a parent wants to provide alcohol to their young adult children, that certainly would be in their rights. This law is only concerned with youth obtaining alcohol without their parent's permission or outside the presence of their parents. The private property ordinance also provides that other adults do not have the right to allow your child to drink on their property or give alcohol to your child. The ordinance would also help protect parents' rights to expect that when their child goes to another adult's home, they are safe from alcohol.
Q: Shouldn't parents address this issue since it is their property?
A: In Hunterdon County, statistics show that minors consume alcohol at parties on private property 45% of the time, when in fact, only 21% of the homeowners/parents were at home and knew about the alcohol. The majority of the parents of those teens attending the party had no knowledge that alcohol was being served to their children. Hunterdon County teens are using alcohol starting at age 14.
Q: Minors drinking on private property keeps them safe rather than drinking and driving, doesn't it?
A: It is a common myth that this practice will keep them "safe." More teens report bringing other substances to parties (i.e. prescription drugs) that can lead to severe and life-threatening situations. Drinking on private property doesn't keep them safe from injury, high-risk sex, poisoning, violence, suicide, etc. Over 2,000 young adults die each year due to alcohol-related injuries. Serving alcohol to minors is against New Jersey State law, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or fines up to $1,000. Whether you agree or not, this is the New Jersey State law.
Q: Does any other county have this type of Ordinance?
A: Yes. The state average is 52%. The highest enactment by county is Bergen at 86%, followed by Sussex at 83% and Monmouth at 79%. Hunterdon County is the second lowest in June with only 8%.
Q: Which municipalities have this ordinance in Hunterdon?
A: Township of Delaware, Lebanon Township, Township of Clinton and West Amwell Township. Recently enacted: Flemington, Lambertville, Raritan, Readington, and Milford.