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Underage Possession of Alcohol

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In North Carolina, the legal drinking age is 21, and it is a misdemeanor offense for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, consume, or be in possession of alcohol. Those found guilty of underage possession can seek a lifetime of penalties, costly fines, and other negative effects that can impact his or her future.

If you are in need of legal representation, call our experienced Raleigh criminal defense lawyer. We can fight to have your charges dropped or dismissed.

Penalties for Underage Possession

Any individual under the age of 18 who is found in possession of alcohol can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by:

  • Maximum of 45 days of probation (also called “community punishment”)
  • Fine to be determined by a judge

Additionally, 19 or 20 year-olds who purchase, possess, or consume alcohol can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • A maximum fine of $200
  • Up to 20 days of either jail or probation

If you were found to be in possession of alcohol during an alcohol-related incident—such as driving under the influence—a report of your conviction will also be sent to the Division of Motor Vehicles, which will revoke your license for one year under NCGS 18B-302(g).

Exceptions to the Law

There are certain circumstances in which a minor may be allowed to consume or possess alcohol, such as:

  • Religion: Wine may be consumed by an underage person as part of communion in a church setting.
  • Education: An underage person who is registered in a licensed culinary program may consume alcohol but only under the supervision of a professor and only if that consumption is part of the curriculum for a class.
  • Employment: An underage person employed by an establishment with a liquor license may move, possess, or dispense alcohol while at work; however, he or she may not consume alcohol on the job.

If your child has been arrested for underage possession of alcohol or underage drinking, contact our Raleigh criminal defense attorney now. Call (919) 805-3663 to schedule your free consultation.

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