While there are situations in which a simple mistake won’t have a significant impact on your son or daughter’s life, the consequences of underage drinking can be profound and long-lasting. Even the slightest scent of alcohol can lead to their arrest. North Carolina is not forgiving with underage drinking. When your son or daughter’s future is at stake, you need to reach out to a skilled Charlotte underage drinking attorney to protect their rights.
At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we understand that getting arrested for underage drinking may seem like a hopeless situation for some and not a big deal for others. It’s important to know that there are options other than pleading guilty. We will explore every potential defense and work to obtain the best possible outcome. We have years of experience defending young clients in Charlotte and throughout Mecklenburg County.
Do You Need a Lawyer for an Underage Drinking Ticket?
When your son or daughter is facing an underage drinking charge, you have to think about what to do. Of course, you want what’s best for them. You might consider encouraging them to plead guilty and pay the fine. But this gives them a permanent record and can have lasting consequences on their academic and professional career.
You might consider requesting a public defender. These attorneys should be applauded for their hard work, but make no mistake, they are burdened with a tremendous number of cases. There are never enough public defenders to go around, and whoever takes on your son or daughter’s case won’t have a lot of time to spare.
The best way to help your son or daughter is to understand the gravity of this situation and the importance of hiring an underage drinking defense attorney. The last thing you want is a conviction on your teen or college-age child’s record. It could impact their financial aid, their standing with their school, their ability to get a job, the right to drive, and much more. We recommend you hire a defense attorney experienced in handling underage drinking offenses to help your child avoid a criminal record and damaging collateral consequences.
Why You Should Hire Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys
Our team of criminal defense attorneys has decades of experience handling underage drinking and other underage alcohol-related criminal matters. Samuel Randall is a Board Certified Specialist in both State and Federal Criminal Law by the North Carolina State Bar. Anthony DelNero is a former prosecutor who brings unique insight into myriad criminal matters. Both have a strong record of winning favorable results for their clients—take a look at our results.
Our goal is always to protect a young person’s future opportunities. The first step is to thoroughly review the facts of the case. We want to know everything that led up to this charge. We never judge or shame young clients for their behavior—everyone is young once and makes mistakes. In some cases, we find major weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, which we can use to pursue a dismissal.
If the facts lean in the prosecutor’s favor, we will have a candid discussion with you and your son or daughter. If a dismissal isn’t likely, then we’ll talk about other ways to avoid a conviction or mitigate the consequences of a conviction. Though we can never guarantee a certain outcome to a case, we fight hard to obtain the best possible results.
Underage Drinking in North Carolina
North Carolina laws regarding the sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol include multiple prohibitions for anyone under the legal drinking age: 21 years old.
Under §18B-302(b), it’s illegal for a person under 21 years old to consume any alcoholic beverage. A police officer can issue an underage drinking ticket if they smell alcohol on your breath, see an unopened container in your hand or nearby, or observe bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. All they need is probable cause that someone under 21 years was drinking alcohol to write a ticket.
Since North Carolina is a zero-tolerance state, your son or daughter could be arrested if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .01 percent or higher.
Exceptions to Underage Drinking Laws
There are some notable exceptions to the prohibition on underage drinking:
- Consumption or possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years are allowed when it takes place in an organized church in connection with a religious rite.
- A person under 21 years may possess, transport, and distribute alcohol for job-related purposes when their employer is a properly licensed establishment, but consumption by that employee is still prohibited.
Penalties for Underage Drinking
If your son or daughter is convicted of underage drinking in Charlotte, they face misdemeanor charges. If your son is 19 or 20 years old, they face a Class 3 misdemeanor.
If convicted, they could be punished with:
- Between one and 10 days of community punishment if they have no prior convictions
- Fines up to $200.00
- A permanent criminal record
- Collateral consequences such as difficulty finding and maintaining employment, financial aid issues for school, and more
If your son or daughter has no prior convictions, they can avoid jail time. They might receive a fine and probation. If they have one or more prior convictions, they can receive a lengthier punishment and jail time.
The record of their conviction will be forwarded to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, which can create even more issues. Regardless of whether the underage drinking incident involved driving, they face a revocation of their driver’s license. Additionally, if they’re issued a drinking ticket as a college student, then they could face disciplinary issues or even expulsion depending on the rules of the institution.
Defending Against an Underage Drinking Ticket
It’s tempting to encourage your child to plead guilty to underage drinking charges, especially since your son or daughter may only face probation and fines. But think about the additional consequences that go above and beyond the criminal penalties. Collateral consequences are often worse than the sentence and put their future at risk. We highly recommend your son or daughter takes advantage of every opportunity to defend themselves.
A Charlotte underage drinking lawyer can help your son or daughter by attacking any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. Everyone, no matter their age, has constitutional rights, and any violation of their rights can lead to evidence being tossed out of court. We know how to get a drinking ticket dropped by presenting arguments about the police officer’s lack of probable cause or an unlawful search and seizure.
In some cases, we obtain a favorable outcome by shedding light on the good character of your child and the mitigating circumstances related to their charge. Also, your son or daughter may have a strong defense if their situation falls into an exception to the law.
Also, keep in mind that there are options other than a conviction when the evidence is not in your child’s favor. If your son or daughter is a first-time offender, an underage drinking attorney may be able to avoid a conviction through meaningful, positive negotiations with the prosecutor. It’s possible to keep the underage drinking conviction off their record, though fines and probation may still apply.
Using Fake ID or Fraudulent ID to Purchase Alcohol
In North Carolina, it is illegal to enter or attempt to enter a place where alcohol is sold or consumed by using a fraudulent ID. That is also true of obtaining, attempting to obtain, or buy alcoholic beverages.
In fact, even possession of a fake ID can result in a criminal conviction. It is illegal in North Carolina to possess any form of fake ID for the purpose of deception, fraud, or other criminal conduct. Because that is typically the reason a juvenile would have a fake ID, they can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor for the possession of a fake ID.
A fake ID may include an altered driver’s license or any other document that is fraudulent. That includes a license or document that belongs to someone else that wrongfully indicates someone is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing alcohol.