More than half of teens in the United States have consumed alcohol. Underage drinking is more common than smoking cigarettes or using marijuana, making it a particularly concerning phenomenon. Statistically speaking, stopping all underage drinking is not possible. It is therefore essential that minors and parents know the consequences of underage drinking in South Carolina.
Proving Underage Drinking in South Carolina
It is simple enough to show that a minor is purchasing or in possession of alcohol, but proof of consumption can be more difficult unless authorities witness the minor taking a drink. If authorities suspect underage drinking, they will administer a breathalyzer test. Although you can refuse a breathalyzer test, this will result in an automatic six-month suspension of your driver’s license if the test is in connection to a suspected driving under the influence charge. Refusing the test can also cause the courts to be suspicious of your motives for refusing and to suspect that you had been drinking.
Legal Ramifications of Underage Drinking
South Carolina law prohibits people under the age of 21 from possessing, consuming, or purchasing alcohol. This includes driving with a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or higher. If found guilty of violating this law, you may be subject to a fine of $100 or more, jail time up to 30 days, and will be required to complete alcohol prevention or intervention program, which may cost up to $150. If this is not your first time being convicted of this offense, you are likely to face higher fines and longer jail sentences. Driving under the influence will also result in more severe penalties.
Underage drinking is often paired with other charges, since, in order to obtain alcohol under the age of 21, fake identification is frequently used. The person responsible for creating or altering the driver’s license, if convicted, may face fines up to $2,500, up to six months in prison, or both. Penalties for simply using a fraudulent driver’s license are less severe, with fines of up to $100 and up to 30 days in prison. Using an identification card other than a driver’s license will not protect you from prosecution. If found guilty of creating, altering, or using a special identification card to obtain alcohol when underage can result in fines up to $200 and up to 30 days in prison.
You may be unaware that charges can also be filed against you for:
- Attempting to purchase alcohol underage
- Attempting to use a fake identification card
- Being in a vehicle in which alcohol is present
In these situations, you could face fines of $100 to $200 and up to 30 days in jail. Although not quite as serious as other alcohol charges, these can also be charged alongside driving under the influence of other more serious charges.
Contact a Charleston DUI Attorney
If you or your minor child has been accused of purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol under the age of 21, contact the attorneys at the David Aylor Law Offices right away. These criminal charges can have a tremendous impact on your future and should not go uncontested.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.