When most people hear about minor in possession charges, they think of charges brought against minors who are in possession of alcohol, or who attempt to use fake IDs to obtain alcohol. However, minor in possession laws also cover selling or providing alcohol to underage individuals.
This is important to understand, because minor in possession charges are common this time of year, and police across the state and the country are on the lookout both for minors in possession of alcohol and for any individuals that provide alcohol to minors. In fact, the consequences for providing alcohol to a minor are often more serious than possessing it as a minor.
Below we take a look at both aspects of North Carolina’s minor in possession laws – for both minors in possession and individuals who help minors obtain alcohol.
Underage Possession of Alcohol in North Carolina
In North Carolina, it is illegal for individuals under 21 to possess or consume alcohol with very few exceptions. Individuals 18 and under may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for possession of alcohol, and individuals 19-20 years of age may be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Typically a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by fines and jail time, while a Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by fines and potentially a short jail sentence. Additionally, individuals 18 and older will be left with a criminal record.
Minors may possess or distribute alcohol only under the following circumstances:
- As a part of employment at a restaurant or other establishment licensed to serve alcohol.
- As a part of an accredited and licensed culinary program.
- As a part of a religious service in an organized church.
North Carolina’s Laws on Aiding Minors in Obtaining Alcohol
It is illegal for minors to help other minors obtain alcohol. For example, in a group of friends, one underage individual may obtain alcohol and give or sell it to other individuals. This carries an additional Class 3 misdemeanor charge over and above the possession charge that minor would face.
If an adult age 18 or older helps minors to obtain alcohol, this is a Class 1 misdemeanor. For example, if an individual who is of age purchases alcohol and sells it to minors, this would be a Class 1 misdemeanor minor in possession charge.
Use of a Fraudulent ID to Obtain Alcohol in North Carolina
In many minor in possession cases, minors may use a fake ID in attempt to obtain alcohol. This will result in a fraudulent identification charge, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This is in addition to the above minor in possession charges.
North Carolina Provisional DWI
In North Carolina, minors who have consumed any amount of alcohol and operate a vehicle are charged with a DWI, even if the blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of 0.08%.
Punishment for a DWI includes license suspension, required ignition interlock device, fines, community service and potentially even jail time. A DWI will also increase insurance rates.
Facing NC Minor in Possession Charges?
If you or your child are facing minor in possession charges, it is important to fight back against these very serious charges. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines, jail time, and a criminal record that will come back to haunt you.
We recommend that anyone facing these charges act fast by consulting a skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer can advise you on how best to proceed, and may even be able to help you get your case thrown out entirely.