It is illegal for a person under twenty-one years of age to buy or consume alcohol in South Carolina. If found guilty, an individual person faces some harsh underage drinking penalties.
Under South Carolina Juvenile Justice Code §63-19-2440, underage drinking is defined as follows:
“it is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one to purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, or knowingly possess beer, ale, porter, wine, or other similar malt or fermented beverage.”
They varies depending on what the person is being charged with. A police officer has the ability to request that a minor take a breathalyzer test if he or she has probable cause to believe that the underage person has had a drink. If this is proven that a minor purchased, consumed, or possesses alcohol, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. This can result in a fine of $100-$200 and up to thirty days in jail.
Driving Under the Influence
DUI also poses great threats to the minors and the public which means that the penalties are even more severe. The legal limit for driving under the influence in South Carolina is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. For an individual under the age of twenty-one, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.02 or higher. A breathalyzer showing a BAC of 0.02 or higher will result in a DUI charge.
Depending on the reading of the breathalyzer, a minor faces fines between $400-$1,000 and up to thirty days in jail. The young person’s driver’s license will also be suspended for up to six months. He or she may also be required to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle.
Transfer of Alcohol to Underage Persons
Under South Carolina Code of Laws §61-6-4070, it is illegal for an adult to give alcohol to a minor. This means that if a person over the age of twenty-one provides alcohol to an underage one, he or she faces charges of supplying alcohol to a minor. This includes friends, family, and acquaintances.
A first time offender will face fines of $300-$400 and thirty days in jail. A second time and subsequent offender will face fines of $400-$500 and thirty days in jail. However, there are some exemptions to this statute, including:
- a spouse over the age of twenty-one giving alcohol to their spouse in their own home;
- a parent or guardian giving alcohol to their children in their own home;
- the person giving alcohol to the minor is doing so due to a religious ceremony.
Being charged with an underage drinking offense can have a serious impact on the rest of your life. If you or your minor are facing such related charges, please call Henderson and Henderson at 843-212-3188 to speak with an experienced attorney who can assist you.