Underage drinking charges should always be taken seriously.
South Carolina has very strict underage drinking laws, especially regarding adults under 21 years old driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. But what are South Carolina's underage DUI laws? What are the penalties? And what other state laws apply to underage drinking?
If you're facing charges, you need to know your legal options. Contact a South Carolina DUI defense attorney today.
South Carolina's underage drinking laws
Like most states, the legal drinking age in South Carolina is 21. As a result, anyone under the age of 21 in South Carolina is considered underage when it comes to consuming alcohol.
Can young adults under age 21 drink with their parents in South Carolina?
There are certain instances in which adults under age 21 can legally drink alcohol. For example, according to South Carolina Code Ann. §§ 61-4-90, adults under age 21 can legally consume alcohol in the following situations:
- Children given beer or wine in their home by a parent or guardian who is over the age of 21.
- Children given beer or wine as part of a religious ceremony.
- Students ages 18 or older who must taste beer or wine as part of an accredited college or university culinary course.
What are South Carolina's underage DUI laws?
In South Carolina, drivers under the age of 21 are considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than 0.02 percent. See Title 56 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.
South Carolina's BAC threshold for drivers under the age of 21 is considerably lower than the normal BAC limit for drivers over the age of 21. In most cases, most South Carolina drivers 21 and older are considered legally drunk if their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher.
What is the penalty for underage DUI in South Carolina?
The penalties for underage DUI in South Carolina are very strict. For example, if a driver is under the age of 21 and is charged and convicted of DUI, the penalties can include the following:
- Driver's license suspended for up to 3 months for the first underage DUI conviction.
- Driver's license suspended for up to 6 months for the second underage DUI conviction within 5 years.
- Up to a $1,000 fine.
- Up to 30 days in jail.
- Purchase and installation of an ignition interlock device.
Penalties can be even more severe if an underage driver has a high BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. In such instances, additional penalties often apply due to South Carolina's elevated BAC laws and penalties, which can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 56, Chapter 5, Sections 56.
How can a DUI defense attorney help?
Minors under the age of 21 who have been charged and convicted of drunk driving in South Carolina can face serious consequences. However, an experienced DUI defense lawyer who knows the laws that apply in such cases can work to protect your freedom.
At Matt Bodman P.A., we have years of experience successfully handling complicated DUI cases in South Carolina. A former South Carolina prosecutor, attorney Matt Bodman can work with you to build the strongest possible legal case in your defense.
Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment today with an experienced Columbia DUI defense attorney.