Yes, Underage Alcohol Possession in North Carolina is a Crime

Underage possession of alcohol is a common occurrence. While many consider underage alcohol possession to simply be a right of passage but it is a crime with some stiff penalties. Across the state, lawyers in Charlotte, NC and other college towns know first hand that underage drinking is prevalent and punishable and a conviction can spiral out of control quickly. That's because North Carolina is very specific about its approach to underage drinking and penalties can range from heavy fines to jail time.   If a minor is charged with possession of alcohol and is consuming alcohol and driving, the consequences can be life-changing and irreversible. These cases will require the help of an experienced DWI attorney who is familiar with defending cases that involve minors and alcohol.   North Carolina Laws and Underage Alcohol Possession In North Carolina, specific laws are in place to prohibit minors from possessing and consuming alcohol. Known as underage possession laws, these statutes address any form of alcohol possession — in a business, residence or motor vehicle, and they carry serious punishment in the event of a conviction.   Violations of these laws are considered Class 3 misdemeanors if the defendant is 19 or 20 and is in possession of alcohol that is a malt beverage or unfortified wine. Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors apply to defendants who are 18 or younger and in possession of a mixed beverage, spirituous liquor or fortified wine.   A minor in North Carolina may not purchase, possess, or consume alcohol with few exceptions. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-302(b).) It is also illegal for anyone to sell, give, or otherwise provide alcohol to a minor.   A minor may not use fraudulent or altered identification (or someone else’s identification) to enter an establishment licensed to sell alcohol. An adult is also prohibited from allowing a minor to use the adult’s identification to obtain alcohol.   Minors who illegally help another minor to obtain alcohol, called aiding and abetting,  can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. Adults who illegally assist a minor in obtaining alcohol, including allowing the minor to use the adult’s driver’s license or other identification to obtain alcohol, can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.   Penalties for Conviction of Underage Alcohol Possession Minors convicted of breaking the laws against purchase, possession, or consumption, and adults who supply alcohol or identification to a minor face charges of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries the consequences described below. While a misdemeanor may sound not so bad, things can escalate before you know it, so it's best to have a criminal defense attorney on your side.   Convicted offenders will also have their conviction report sent to the Division of Motor Vehicles where they will revoke the offender’s license for one year. If the offender’s license is already suspended, the one-year revocation will begin when the current suspension ends.   Misdemeanor Sentences North Carolina punishes misdemeanors according to the level of the crime. Repeat offenders are subject to jail time.  

  • Class 1: up to 45 days of “community punishment” or probation, plus the possibility of a fine.
  • Class 2: up to 30 days of community punishment, plus fines of up to $1,000
  • Class 3: up to 10 days of community punishment, plus the possibility of a fine of up to $200.

  Because local interpretation of the laws regarding underage possession varies by jurisdiction, it's always a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how these cases are handled in your area. If you or someone you know has been charged with any violations involving underage alcohol possession, the Law Office of Jason H. Reece has your back. Contact us today.