Underage Drinking

Alcohol Law Enforcement special agents are vigorous in their efforts to stop the illegal sale of alcohol to and consumption of alcohol by minors. In addition to their law enforcement responsibilities, ALE special agents provide training programs that educate high school and college students on the dangers of drinking alcoholic beverages.

Penalties

A person under the age of 21 caught purchasing, attempting to purchase or possessing alcohol will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Sentencing is left to the judge's discretion. If convicted, the Division of Motor Vehicles revokes that person's driver's license. 

  • A 19 or 20-year-old caught possessing beer or wine can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor and if found guilty could be fined up to $200 and lose his or her driver's license.
  • For the first offense, a person convicted of selling or providing alcohol to someone under the age of 21 must pay a $250 fine plus $100 in court costs and do 25 hours of community service.
  • A person convicted of aiding and abetting the sale of or providing alcohol to a minor must pay a $500 fine plus court costs and do 25 hours of community service work.
  • In addition to fines and court costs, those convicted of breaking the state alcohol laws may have to pay attorney's fees and may not be employed by a business that holds an ABC permit for a period of two years following conviction.
  • It is illegal for anyone to loan his or her ID to someone else to obtain alcohol. Upon conviction, DMV will revoke the loaner's driver's license.

Underage Drinking Facts

  • Alcohol use by teens is one of the strongest predictors of teen injury, fighting, academic problems, truancy, unprotected sexual activity, unwanted sexual advances, illegal activity and other illicit drug use. (TalkItOutNC)
  • 38% of eighth graders in North Carolina have had alcohol at least once. (TalkItOutNC)
  • The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 30.89% of 18-25 year-olds in North Carolina had binge alcohol use in the past month. (SAMHSA)
  • Adults who started drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to abuse alcohol than adults who didn’t drink until they were 21. (TalkItOutNC)
  • In 2017 there were 145 deaths attributable to alcohol and 8,786 years of potential life lost by young adults age 12-20 in North Carolina. (SAMHSA)
  • Teens who use alcohol are at a higher risk for developing mental illnesses such as depression, suicide and psychosis as adults. (TalkItOutNC)
  • 95% of all violent crimes committed on college campuses are alcohol-related. (N.C. Carolina Governor's Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse)
  • It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive while consuming or after consuming alcohol.
  • In 2017, 26.4% of all fatal crashes in North Carolina involving an underage driver were due to alcohol impairment. (NHTSA)
  • Any reading above 0.00 on an alcohol-screening test, or a refusal to take an alcohol-screening test along with the odor of alcohol on the breath, are both sufficient to convict a youth.