NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - This past February, the New Providence Alliance to Prevent Alcohol and Drug Abuse held a school-wide search for a slogan. The idea was for students to come up with a brief, creative slogan or tagline to spread awareness and encourage an end to underage drinking. The winner was to receive an award of one hundred dollars. They received over 40 entries, and out of the many creative and thoughtful entries, the New Providence Alliance choose the slogan “Underage Drinking? What are you Thinking?” by Mario Fuentes, a junior at New Providence High School.  The slogan was announced in the school on Monday March 13th and Fuentes came to the April 4th meeting to accept his award. The banner with his slogan was hung across South Street on April 24th. There is also a banner in front of Centennial Park at the corner of Springfield Avenue and Academy Street.

Over the years, the New Providence Alliance has made efforts to point out the risks and consequences of underage drinking. This year they are trying to let parents know that hosting a party with alcohol available to minors can carry serious monetary and legal consequences.

If you are considering turning a blind eye or taking a “wink-wink” approach to that graduation party you’re throwing for your newly minted scholar, you may want to reconsider. The law in New Jersey is very strict when it comes to supplying alcohol to minors.  Adults or “social hosts” face serious consequences for disregarding the law (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17). The State of New Jersey defines a social host as “a person who, by express or implied invitation, invites another person onto an unlicensed premises for purposes of hospitality.”  A parent or adult host who serves or makes alcohol available to guests under the age of 21 may face criminal penalties.

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The penalties for providing alcohol to minors or allowing alcohol to be consumed on your property include fines up to $1,000 and /or up to six months imprisonment and a criminal record.  In addition, under New Jersey’s Social Host Liability Law, a civil claim may also hold you financially responsible for injuries sustained by a third party as a result of the actions of a minor who has been illegally served or had alcohol made available to them on your property. Further, you may also be held responsible if the minor who is served alcohol at your home is subsequently killed or injured.  The law could not be clearer, never serve alcohol or make it available to a minor under any circumstance.

Prevention is the best route to take, but it can be difficult for parents to form a supportive network in order to protect their children. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Be involved in their lives and communicate with them regularly and be a good example to them. Be aware that the unsupervised home of one of their friends can be a magnet for those looking for an opportunity to drink or use drugs. Being unaware or inattentive can result in long-term legal and financial consequences. Irresponsibility places your children at risk.

New Providence Alliances’ mission is to achieve a drug free community and improve and enhance the quality of life for all who work and live in the Borough of New Providence. They want to establish a comprehensive approach to community-based efforts to prevent alcoholism and drug use. The New Providence Alliance works in conjunction with other Municipal Alliances, Union County Alcohol and Drug Prevention Agencies, and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse for the purpose of achieving mutual goals.

Among the many programs sponsored by The New Providence Alliance, coming up in June is Project Graduation, an all-night celebration for the NPHS graduation class in a supervised substance-free environment. In addition the Marie McNally New Providence Municipal Alliance Scholarship presents 1,000 awards to two graduating New Providence High School seniors who demonstrate leadership qualities, community service, and are positive role models.

For more information about the Alliance & for volunteer opportunities, contact us at MunicipalAlliance@newprov.org, or visit their website: www.newprov.org/MunicipalAlliance