With two colleges located in Wilmington, North Carolina (University of North Carolina- Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College) it is safe to consider Wilmington, NC a college town; which makes it the perfect town for nightclubs and beach bars. The allure to drink alcohol can be quite strong in a college atmosphere, yet many of the students located here are under the legal drinking age of 21.
In North Carolina, laws concerning the sale, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages are contained in N.C.G.S. Chapter 18B, Article 3 (§ 18B-300 to §§ 18B-310 through 18B-399).
· If you are less than 19 years of age and convicted of drinking, which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, your punishment can include a fine in the discretion of the judge, community service hours and a $250 fee or jail, plus court costs of currently $180.
· If you are 19 or 20 years of age and convicted of drinking, which is a Class 3 Misdemeanor, you punishment can include a fine of up to $200 and community service hours and a $250 fee or jail, plus court costs of currently $180
· If you are under the age of and convicted of purchasing or attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages, a Class 1 misdemeanor, your punishment can include Community service hours and a $250 fee or jail time, court cost of currently $180, and a fine is discretion of the judge. In addition, your driver license will be suspended for one year and you will not be able to obtain a limited driving privilege.
While our underage drinking laws are stricter than those in some other states, North Carolina recognizes three exceptions to the general rule prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol.
- Religious participation. A minor may possess and consume wine for sacramental purposes in an organized church. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-103(8).)
- Employment. Minors may possess, transport, or dispense—but not consume—alcohol during the course of employment in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol. Such employment must also be lawful under North Carolina’s youth employment statutes. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-302(h).)
- Education. Minors may possess and consume alcohol under the direct supervision of an instructor, during the course of a licensed and accredited culinary program, when such consumption is a required part of the curriculum. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-103(11).)
Collins Law Firm has represented thousands of people charged with crimes or infractions, and many involving crimes involving violating the laws regarding the sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol or underage consumption or possession of alcohol. In many cases, especially for first time offenders, we have been able to avoid convictions. Currently, in most cases for first time offenders, even if there is no solid defense, we are able to negotiate an agreement with law enforcement officer and the district attorney’s office to have the charges dismissed pursuant to a deferred prosecution after the defendant completes a certain number of hours of volunteer service, or completing a class about alcohol and the laws regarding alcohol, or completing other conditions for dismissal, or a combination thereof. In some cases where there is a solid defense, we are able to have the charges dismissed without our clients having to perform any community service or complete classes.
If you or someone you know have been charged with any crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, and need a lawyer or attorney to represent you, call us for a confidential consultation at 910-793-9000.
By Rachel Reynolds, Legal Assistant, Collins Law Firm