Drinking a beer before the age of 21 may not seem like a big deal. In fact, college parties and similar events may seem like a rite of passage. However, the State of North Carolina takes underage drinking very seriously and offenders face strict penalties and punishments.

Our criminal defense lawyers in Raleigh are sharing what you need to know about underage drinking, whether feel like taking a risk or you’re already facing a charge.

raleigh nc underage drinking lawyer

North Carolina Laws for Underage Drinking

According to the North Carolina General Statute 18B-300, an individual under the age of 21 cannot consume, possess, or purchase alcohol in North Carolina. In addition to this, it is also illegal to use someone else’s ID to enter a bar or help other minors obtain alcohol.

Penalties for Underage Drinking

The penalties for underage drinking in North Carolina are much stricter than in many other states. Depending on the circumstances, you may be facing the following:

  • Up to 120 days in jail
  • Losing your driver’s license
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Court costs
  • Community service
  • Court-ordered substance abuse program

Typically, an individual who is under the age of 19 will receive the more serious penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor while an individual who is 19 or 20 will face a Class 3 misdemeanor for underage drinking.

However, using a fake idea or helping another minor obtain alcohol is a Class 2 misdemeanor with up to 60 days in jail and additional fines.

Underage DWI Charges

While an adult will only be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol level is over .08 percent (or if they are under the influence of a drug or controlled substance), North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for underage DWI. If an officer smells alcohol on the breath of a driver who is under 21 and they refuse a blood test, or the blood alcohol content is anything above 0.00, they can be convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

An underage DWI conviction (without any previous convictions or additional charges) is punishable by:

  • Immediate license revocation for up to one year
  • Up to 60 days in jail
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Community service
  • Substance abuse or alcohol treatment

Holding Adults Accountable for Underage Drinking

It’s not only the minor who may be facing legal trouble for underage drinking, any adult who supplies someone under 21 with alcohol or aids them in obtaining it (such as by loaning them their ID to use to buy alcohol) is committing a crime, too. Adults can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and lose their driving privileges.

Schedule a Consultation with an Underage Drinking Attorney in Raleigh

If you or your child have received a ticket for drinking or was arrested for a DWI, reach out to our underage drinking attorneys in Raleigh today. We strive to have charges reduced or dropped for our clients and work hard to secure positive outcomes so a youthful mistake doesn’t lead to life-long consequences. To learn more, reach out to us today at 919-615-2473 for our Raleigh office or at 919-365-6000 to reach our Wendell office. You can also fill out the form below to get started.

Information presented on this website should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship.  Additionally, any email sent to Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. or any of its lawyers at the email addresses set forth in this website will not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Joe is an experienced personal injury and NC land condemnation lawyer in Raleigh. He also handles medical negligence cases in Wendell and Raleigh.