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Carteret County Underage Possession Attorney

Charged with underage possession? We can help!

The drinking age is 21 in North Carolina and it is considered to be a criminal offense to be in possession of liquor if you are younger than this. This includes wine, beer or spirits of any kind and does not simply mean attempting to purchase alcohol with a fake ID. Any illicit interaction between a juvenile and alcohol is considered an illegal offense – from attempting to purchase, successfully purchasing or simply being in possession (even if they are not the original purchaser). Should a juvenile be charged with a DWI while underage, the penalties will be even more severe.

Penalties that are involved with underage possession include the possibility of imprisonment, as well as monetary fines and court costs, even the possibility of a drinking ticket. For this reason, if you or a loved one have recently been criminally charged with such a crime, it is highly encouraged that you consult with an experienced Carteret County criminal defense lawyer from a firm that you can trust. As the Carteret County area is not a large metropolitan area, it is in your best interests to hire locally – get a lawyer on your side that knows what you are facing and knows the area.

Continue reading for further information about the benefits of hiring legal representation during an underage drinking case, as well answers to many of the frequently asked questions that we receive surrounding underage drinking laws in North Carolina.

The Benefits of Underage Drinking Representation

While you have the right to defend yourself in your upcoming underage drinking case, we recommend that you seek representation and legal counsel to minimize the impact of an imposing conviction, or to have the charges reduced or dropped altogether. In addition, an attorney can be beneficial to those who have been charged with underage drinking for the following reasons.

Full knowledge of court proceedings: Attorneys understand court proceedings, the court process and timeline, and when to file documents. This knowledge ensures that your court proceedings go smoothly, without upsetting prosecutors and the judge for your trial — which, ultimately, may lead to lighter sentencing or more lenience on the charges held against you.

Protecting your rights: Your lawyer will work with your best interests in mind. Your attorney will work on your behalf to protect your rights, protecting you from unfair prosecution. You may not know your rights, or how best to defend yourself in your upcoming court case; however, your attorney will communicate with you to determine your best plan of action to minimize the impact of the charge or charges held against you.

Members of the local law community: Attorneys are members of a community of law professionals. From local officers to judges, your attorney will likely know members of the law community, which ensures better communication and a smoother process. As such, an attorney may be better suited to help you meet your goals and your plan of action in the upcoming trial.

Knowledge of local law: Laws differ from state to state and county to county. If you’ve been convicted of an underage drinking infraction here in Carteret County, a Carteret County criminal defense attorney will likely be your best source for information on local laws and court proceedings. That can save you a headache down the road, and it may improve your chances of a favorable outcome when (and if) your case goes to trial.

Underage Drinking FAQ


What constitutes an underage drinking infraction in North Carolina?

There are several underage drinking infractions that can be issued in the state of North Carolina. You may be convicted of an underage drinking infraction if you use a fraudulent ID; if you aid other minors in attaining alcohol; or if you possess, purchase, or consume alcohol between the ages of 18 and 20. In addition, it is illegal for an adult to purchase alcohol for a minor. These infractions are considered misdemeanor crimes, and they may result in fines and probation.

In addition, it is illegal for a minor to drive while impaired. North Carolina has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol levels or drugs that may impair your ability to drive.

Are there exceptions to these laws?

In certain circumstances, it is legal for a minor to possess and/or consume alcohol. These circumstances only include the following three exceptions:

1) Minors who are employed at an established liquor sales business. The employer of the establishment must have proof that any minor carrying liquor while under their employment is legally allowed to do so.

2) Minors who are in an accredited culinary program. A minor who is under the supervision of an instructor while enrolled in a licensed and accredited program may possess and consume alcohol if it is a required part of the curriculum.

3) Minors who are participating in a religious tradition. Minors can possess and consume wine while participating in sacramental, religious ceremonies at an organized church.

Do I need to attend my court date?

For most underage drinking infractions, you can have an attorney represent you in court on your behalf; so that you won’t have to attend your court date.

I’m a first-time offender, how will that affect my case?

First-time offenders may have less severe sentences, and they may be able to enroll in a first-time offender program to avoid conviction for an underage drinking charge. First-time offenders who enroll in this program will not be convicted for the underage drinking charge, although the charge may still appear on that person’s record, as well as a dismissal of the charge.

What constitutes an underage DWI in North Carolina?

As we mentioned, North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking while driving a vehicle. Minors cannot have any alcohol or controlled substances in their systems while driving a vehicle on state highways or “public vehicular areas” in the state of North Carolina.

There is only one exception to this rule: Minors may have a controlled substance in their systems if that substance was obtained legally and it has been consumed in a therapeutically appropriate amount.

Unlike standard DWI laws for adult drivers, underage DWIs can be issued to minors with any blood alcohol level that is higher than zero — a minor’s BAC does not need to exceed .08 percent in order to be issued an underage DWI. This is part of North Carolina’s zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking while driving.

How can an officer test for underage DWI?

Officers may request an alcohol screening test, just as they would with a traditional DWI. If a minor refuses alcohol screening tests, they may still be charged with an underage DWI, and they may have their license revoked. Officers must use a device that has been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services to screen for alcohol.

Do I have to submit to an alcohol screening?

Alcohol screening falls under “implied consent” laws in the state of North Carolina. As such, a minor is legally required to be screened when requested by an officer, and they may still be charged with an underage DWI violation if they refuse a screening.

Is an alcoholic odor enough to convict me of an underage DWI?

Yes. If an officer claims to smell the odor of alcohol on the breath of a minor who is driving, that minor may be convicted of an underage DWI on this evidence alone. An alcohol screening is not necessary for conviction in these circumstances, and the minor may be charged for underage DWI, and they may have their license revoked.

Can I be charged for a non-underage DWI as a minor?

Yes. In certain cases, minors may be charged with a (non-underage) DWI. Since both minors and adults can commit DWI infractions, minors may still be charged with a full DWI, even though they are underage. Legally speaking, a DWI is a more serious infraction than an underage DWI, and it will have more severe sentencing. Minors may be charged with a DWI if their infraction fulfills the necessary circumstances for a (non-underage) DWI conviction.

When convicting a minor of an underage DWI or (non-underage) DWI, the courts will try the minor for both infractions; however, the minor will only be sentenced with one infraction — he/she will be convicted of the more serious DWI infraction if (non-underage) DWI laws are violated.

What kind of sentence can I expect if convicted of an underage DWI?

Underage DWI is considered a class II misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina. Those who are convicted of an underage DWI can expect up to 60 days of jail time and up to a $1,000 fine. A judge may also require the convicted minor to be placed on probation, and they may have to perform a drug or alcohol assessment, obtain treatment, or perform community service, depending on the circumstances of the trial and the current criminal record of the convicted minor.

Criminal Lawyers Serving the Entire Coast of North Carolina

At Cummings & Kennedy, we are led by a husband and wife team that has a combined twenty years of legal experience under their belt. As a continuation of a law firm that was started in 1995, they are proud to offer local residents service that combines the personalized representation of a boutique firm with the results of a larger one. For this reason, if you or a loved one are currently dealing with criminal charges, it is highly encouraged that you do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. Cases such as this do not carry the consequences of more serious felonies, but this does not mean that they are not serious. Having a blemish on your criminal record, regardless of the circumstances, could prove to be an obstacle in the future and should be something that is defended against in every possible way.

Do not hesitate to contact a Carteret County underage possession lawyer from our firm today!