North Carolina is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to underage drinking. We have a zero-tolerance policy, meaning it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume or even possess any type of alcohol.
When it comes to drinking and driving, while the legal limit for those 21 and over is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol content), for anyone under 21, a BAC of anything above 0.00% is illegal, without exception.
What Are the Charges and Consequences?
Unless the charge is a DWI (in which the consequences are more severe), underage drinking tickets in North Carolina are classified as Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanors. Depending on your past criminal and driving record, there are various consequences for underage drinking, which include:
- Up to 120 days in jail
- Loss of driver’s license
- Fines ranging from $200-$500
- Community service
- Alcohol abuse courses
Because every case is different, it is important to consult an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to obtain the best possible outcome for your specific situation.
In addition to the consequences listed above, an underage drinking ticket can affect your future, so you should take it very seriously. Unless expunged, a drinking ticket will show up on an employment background check or credit application. Future employers and lenders will see this and could decide not to hire you or lend you money based on the charge, so the consequences can extend beyond the original penalty.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Caught Drinking?
If you (or your minor child) have received a ticket for underage drinking, contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While alcohol possession might seem like a minor offense, because North Carolina has such a strict policy, the consequences can be lasting.
If you’ve already received a ticket and been convicted of an underage drinking misdemeanor, it is not too late to contact a criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and determine whether you might be eligible for an expungement. Jeremy Cotten has served clients throughout Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties. Give him a call or click over to the main page to chat with a legal assistant about your drinking ticket and your options.