a

Everyone else was drinking. And you’d always wanted to try it. Frankly, these opportunities don’t come around often, so you took your chance to toss a few back. You knew under age drinking was against the law, but thought, “Why not?” So you explored your curiosity and gave in to peer pressure.

The last thing you expected was the police to show up. If there is one thing a police officer can spot, it’s a kid who has been drinking.

If this has happened to you or your child, the situation can be scary. So what happens now? What will the punishment be?

Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol

Whether you fool the store clerk or not, purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol is illegal and considered class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you could be facing stiff penalties, including:

  • Loss of driver’s license for one year
  • No chance for limited driving privilege
  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Jail time
  • Court costs

Additionally, your insurance carrier can jack up your car insurance premiums for three years — even if you didn’t drink and get behind the wheel.

Consumption of alcohol

Maybe you tricked the guy at the checkout stand, or perhaps a buddy gave you the alcohol. Either way, if you’re caught consuming alcohol as a minor, you face some harsh penalties. These penalties could include:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Jail time
  • Court costs

Underaged drinking is a misdemeanor offense. For those under 19, it’s a class 1 misdemeanor. For 19- and 20-year-olds, the offense is a class 3 misdemeanor. This is less severe than the class 1 and carries a slightly lower maximum fine.

Drinking and driving

Drinking and driving is bad no matter how old you are. Doing so under age is costly. North Carolina has a zero tolerance for those too young to legally consume alcohol.

No matter how small the amount, an underage driver caught drinking loses his or her license immediately for 30 days and must pay a fee to get the license back. If a police officer smells alcohol on an underage driver, her or she may be asked to perform an alcohol test. If the young driver refuses, that refusal is evidence in the court case. If the driver takes the test, and it shows any amount of alcohol, that is enough to convict.

Upon conviction, the young driver faces the following penalties:

  • Loss of driver’s license for one year
  • Possibility of limited driving privilege for a fee
  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Jail time
  • Court costs

Additionally, insurers can send car insurance rates through the roof — by as much 400 percent for three years.

Understanding your rights

A criminal conviction has short-term and long-term implications. The immediate penalties for violating under aged drinking laws can be scary, and a conviction can affect future employment opportunities.

Before admitting to any wrongdoing, however, consult with an experienced Charlotte, NC, attorney like Jason Reece. Call 704-714-8888, or use this form to schedule a free consultation.