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North Carolina Underage Alcohol Laws Are Tough On Students

The winter break is coming to a close for many North Carolina colleges. Students are returning to dorm life, and the temptations that dorm life can bring. Most college and high school students know that the drinking age in North Carolina is 21. Many students are unaware of the consequences of underage possession or underage drinking under North Carolina law.

Potential penalties can vary based upon age of the person or the type of alcohol a person is drinking. An 18-year-old drinking beer can be charged with a class one misdemeanor because the minor is under the age of 19. Meanwhile, a 19-year-old caught drinking beer may be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor. A 19-year-old drinking a rum and coke may be charged at the Class 1 misdemeanor level.

Class 1 misdemeanor charges carry stricter penalties than class 3 misdemeanors. However, a minor charged with an alcohol offense may potentially lose their privilege to drive in North Carolina for one year. Students who attend North Carolina colleges may not be aware that in North Carolina a person is tried as an adult after the person reaches the age of 16. The rule applies equally to residents of the state as well as people that call another state their home.

A conviction in North Carolina will be entered into the person's criminal record. That record can bar a minor from being accepted into many schools and may show up during a job related background check in the future.

Many students and other minors think of using a fake ID to gain entrance to bars or nightclubs. It is important to know that mere possession of a fake ID is a crime under North Carolina law. In fact, possession of an actual ID that belongs to a friend or relative is a felony. Like any alcohol offense, using a fake ID may cost you your driver's license for one year.

Minors and students should also be aware that hosting a party where minors are present may result in charges. The host can be charged with unlawful furnishing of alcohol to minors as well as aiding and abetting a crime in North Carolina.

Social host laws can come in to play if a person gets into a car accident after a party. If the host knew or should have known the person was drinking at the party, regardless of the driver's age, the host can be held liable for damages.

Source: WFMY News 2, "10 Laws Every NC College Student Needs To Know," Chelsi Zash 6 Jan 2011

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