Parents just want their teenagers to be safe, but every parent’s approach is different. You may know parents who are very strict about letting their child drink. You may also know parents who let children drink in their house and take away their keys to keep them safe.
If you are one of these latter parents, make sure you know the laws in North Carolina to keep your children (and yourself) out of trouble. Namely, the fact that it is illegal to let underage kids drink except for in very specific cases.
Minors who are caught will face minor in possession charges. Worse, parents who give minors alcohol won’t just put their child at risk – they may also face aiding and abetting charges.
How to Minor in Possession Charges Work in North Carolina?
If your minor is caught in possession of alcohol or having consumed alcohol, they can be charged with minor in possession.
If the child is up to 18 years old, they will have to go to court and face penalties set by the North Carolina Juvenile Justice System.
Adult children who are still under the legal drinking age (i.e., those aged 19 or 20) will face class 3 misdemeanor charges.
If the minor helps a friend obtain alcohol through a fake driver’s license or other means, they may face class 2 misdemeanor charges.
Adults who give their children alcohol will face more serious charges of aiding and abetting. Aiding and abetting a minor is a class 1 misdemeanor in our state.
Does North Carolina Need to Change Its Minor in Possession Laws?
If you think this law seems unfair, you are not alone. Many people believe that the law should be changed, and they have a point. After all, other states, including South Carolina and Virginia, give parents permission to let their kids drink – under supervision and at home – before they turn 21.
Advocates of these laws say that this allows teenagers to “learn how to drink” and understand how many drinks is too much. Without this education, they turn to binge drinking at parties or college and increase their risk of death.
North Carolina has over 320,000 underage drinkers throughout the state. That is a high number of kids who may not “know how to drink” yet.
When Can Minors Drink In North Carolina?
These are the only times that minors can consume or possess alcohol in North Carolina:
- If they are attending a religious ceremony. Taking a sip of wine at communion is legal.
- If they are employed and have to handle alcohol. This rule allows minors to possess or distribute alcohol, but not to consume it themselves.
- If they are in a culinary class or education program. Future chefs can have a sip of white wine if it’s required as a part of the curriculum
NC Misdemeanor Crimes Can Affect the Rest of Your Life
Misdemeanors are not as serious as felony crimes, but they can still make a big impact on your life. Colleges or landlords who see your child’s criminal record may reject their application. If they are convicted of additional crimes in the future, past indiscretions may affect their sentencing.
Parents and children can work with a defense lawyer to fight these charges or seal these charges through a process called expungement. Don’t let these outdated laws affect your child’s life. Start fighting back against these charges today.