Underage drinking is now at an all-time high in South Carolina. It is estimated that nearly 80-90 individuals under the age of 21 die from alcohol abuse in this state. The cost of underage drinking to South Carolinians is over $1 billion annually. Recent data indicate that at least 3/4th of 12th graders have tried alcohol and liquor is fast becoming the most popular beverages of choice among high schoolers in the state. At least one out of every nine high school students in South Carolina drinks and drives on a regular basis. Finally, alcohol-related motor vehicles are increasing at an alarming rate among young people.
These facts have not gone unnoticed by the Government of South Carolina, and the laws on underage drinking have become harsher and the penalties stiffer. Here are some rules that have been introduced over the past few years regarding alcohol and underage drinking in South Carolina that people should know about.
- Buying alcohol with a fake ID is illegal and considered a crime in South Carolina. Misrepresenting your age in South Carolina to buy alcohol is considered a misdemeanor that can cost you anywhere from $100-$200 and/or up to 4 weeks in prison. In addition, depending on the circumstances, the court will ask you to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program, the cost (approximately $150) of which you have to be responsible for.
- If you are an underage passenger in a car driven by a friend and the law enforcement officer discovers alcohol in the car, you will also be charged. Under the law, if you know about the presence of an alcoholic beverage and have the option of not getting in the car, you should exercise that option. Of course, if the alcohol was in the trunk of the car and you had no idea, then you won’t be charged. The charges for possession of alcohol for underage individuals range from $100-$200 and/or incarceration for up to 4 weeks. In addition, the judge may also recommend an alcohol rehabilitation program for 8 hours, that will cost you another $150.
- If you are underage and driving a vehicle and get stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you might be asked to take a breathalyzer test. If you have not been drinking, you can refuse the breathalyzer, but if you have been drinking and refuse to take the breathalyzer, you will be taken to jail even though you are underage. Again as in the above scenarios, the fines may vary from $100-$200 and /or 4 weeks in jail. In addition, the judge may recommend an 8-hour educational program on alcohol prevention, which will further cost you another $150.
- While the laws for underage drinking are strict, there are some scenarios where you are permitted to drink. For example, you may be enrolled in a culinary program that requires you to taste wine, or you may be attending a religious ceremony. As long as these events are supervised by an adult and the alcohol is legally purchased, there are no untoward consequences.
- Most underage people believe that because of their age, a DUI charge is not a big deal. Unfortunately, if you are suspected of driving under the influence, you will be taken to jail for testing. If you refuse the breathalyzer, your driving license will be suspended on the spot and the car will be towed. If the breathalyzer comes back with a reading of 0.02% or greater, you will also be given a ticket, and your license will be suspended for an additional time.
Contact a DUI Lawyer at the Bateman Firm
The best advice to all underage individuals is not to drink. This will save you a lot of hassles later in life. But if you have been charged with underage drinking, the first thing you should do is contact a DUI lawyer. You can contact our Clemson DUI lawyer today. Do not take this charge lightly, and do not assume that just because you are not considered an adult, you will not face any legal consequences from a DUI offense. Call us today at 864-881-7070, and one of our DUI lawyers at The Bateman Firm will be happy to assist you. While we do not encourage drinking at any age, especially if you are a minor, we understand that people can make mistakes. We do not want this mistake to ruin your future. Talk to our DUI attorney today and find out how they can help you deal with the legal issues related to this charge.
Underage drinking is never a great idea and the consequences for the offense proves the point. Getting a lawyer at Bateman Firm can help with the result.