What every parent must know about the “blackout rage gallon” (BORG), alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving (DUI/DWI) in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Our criminal defense lawyers represent many young people charged with crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A common criminal case is underage drinking. While a minor isn’t typically facing any type of jail or even a substantial fine, an arrest, a criminal charge and or a conviction can often hinder academic and professional advancement in the future.
What is the BORG and why should parents talk to their kids about it!
Recently, a new type of binge drinking entered the underage and college arena –the “blackout rage gallon” or Borg. The Borg is a gallon jug filled with water, vodka, a caffeinated drink, water flavoring, and liquid IV. Underage and college students believe that this concoction is a healthier form of binge drinking. Emergency room doctors, however, who often have to treat alcohol poisoning and other consequences of excessive alcohol consumption view it as simply another form of irresponsible drinking in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
While students and other underage age or of age drinkers believe that the BORG is a safe way to binge drink, doctors have made it clear that it is not a healthy alternative! BORG drinking will not allow a drinker to escape the toxic and sometimes fatal result of excessive alcohol consumption because it contains caffeine, for alertness, or electrolytes for hydration.
Underage Drunk Driving (DUI) in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania the legal age to consume alcohol is 21 just like the rest of the country. The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content is .08%, again just like the rest of the United States. However, if you are under the age of 21 and are caught drinking and driving you should know that Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance law for those under 21.
If you are under the legal drinking age and are arrested driving drunk (Title 75, Section 3802) or driving buzzed there are very severe legal and administrative penalties you will face.
In Pennsylvania anyone under the age of 21 who is arrested driving with a BAC at or above .02% will be charged with a DUI (drunk driving). There is no more evidence needed to charge an underage driver with a DUI in Pennsylvania if their BAC registers at or exceeds .02%. In New Jersey driving with a BAC level of .01 or higher can result in a minor being arrested for DWI.
Pennsylvania’s Zero Tolerance Law carries serious consequences for those under 21 who are convicted of driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood. For example, those under 21 who are convicted of driving under the influence with a .02 blood alcohol content, or greater, face severe penalties, including a 12-to 18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.
Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Law
Prior to April 2019, any person under the age of 21 convicted of underage drinking or false identification faced a mandatory 90 day license suspension for a first offense; a 1 year license suspension for a second year offense, and a 2 year license suspension for a third offense. This was the law in the Commonwealth regardless if the minor was driving or a passenger in a vehicle
In April 2019, Governor Tom Wolf, however, signed a bill which eliminated the mandatory license suspension associated with underage drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A Section 6308 and Possession of a False Identification Card (Fake ID) under 18 Pa.C.S.A Section 6310.3.
It’s very important to understand that Driving While Intoxicated and Underage Person Operating a Motor Vehicle After Consuming Alcohol are separate offenses in New Jersey.
If a minor is convicted of DWI and underage drinking, they face penalties under both statutes. In New Jersey, if an underage driver’s BAC is .01 or more, but less than .08, then license suspension is 30-90 days, plus 15-30 days of community service and participation in a program of alcohol education and highway safety.
If the BAC is .08 or more, then the underage person is subject to the normal DWI penalties under 39:4-50, plus the penalties under 39:4-50.14.
Alcohol Tolerance vs. Impairment
Remember that tolerance and impairment are not the same. Even a minor doesn’t feel drunk, they are more than likely over the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle after drinking. A higher alcohol tolerance, however, won’t change your BAC level. It will just alter the way you react. Basically, you won’t feel that drunk but your BAC could likely be over the legal limit. Tolerance and BAC are mutually exclusive!
How The Brain Reacts to Alcohol
If a person’s body and brain are regularly subjected to alcohol, a change develops within the body to enable a person to adapt better to the presence of alcohol. The average person metabolizes a drink (.6 ounces of ethanol) within ninety minutes after consumption. A person, however, who consumes alcohol on a more regular basis will break down that alcohol more rapidly than a person who rarely drinks. The chemistry within a body’s liver produces enzymes that break down the alcohol.
The Liver & Intoxication
More frequent consumption of alcohol forces the liver to become more efficient in breaking down the alcohol and therefore drinkers need to drink more alcohol in order to get this same intoxication effect (you need more to actually feel drunk). This behavior doesn’t change a person’s BAC level. In addition to the liver, the brain develops tolerance to alcohol when it is regularly exposed to it. More of a tolerance leads to less for a dulling effect on alertness but again this doesn’t affect one’s BAC level.
What affects a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level?
- The number of drinks
- How fast you drink
- Gender – females have less water, more fat and therefore a higher BAC on avg
- Bodyweight – more weight = more water in your body = alcohol dilution
- Food – eating slows down alcohol absorption
- Body Type – More body fat = a higher BAC
- Hydration = less hydrated = BAC rises quicker and longer
- Mixers – water and juice slows alcohol absorption while carbonation (soda) speeds it up)
Contact A Juvenile DUI Defense Attorney In NJ & PA
If you, or your child has been charged with driving under the influence and they are under the age of 21 please contact The Law Office of Alfonso Gambone. I have offices in NJ & PA for your convenience. With my many years experience practicing juvenile criminal and DUI charges, both as a JAG Officer and now as a defense attorney, I have the experience and resources to help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. Let me protect your rights, future & reputation.