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North Carolina Criminal Law 18B-302: Consume Alcohol by a Person Age 19/20

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Consume Alcohol by a Person Age 19/20 Consuming Alcohol by an “Underage Person” (Ages 19-20) pursuant to NC Criminal Law 18B-302 is a misdemeanor criminal charge makes it illegal to consume any amount of an alcoholic beverage when 19 or 20 years old.

The prosecutor bears the Burden of Proof in criminal charges. The assistant district attorney represents the “State.”

In order to prove the Defendant guilty, it must present admissible evidence at trial that:

  1. The Defendant consumed any amount of an alcoholic beverage; and,
  2. The Defendant was 19 or 20 years old at the time

It is important to note that there are exemptions to the use of unfortified/fortified wine under North Carolina Criminal Law 18B-103(4), (8), and/or (11).

2. Examples of Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20

The Defendant meets up with some friends to attend a concert at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte NC. In the parking lot, the defendant drinks a couple beers before entering the arena. The Defendant is 19 years old at the time. Undercover ALE officers approach the Defendant and her friends, asking everyone for “ID.” Once determining the respective ages of everyone in the group, ALE’s officers thereafter demand breath samples on the Alcosensor FST (the “breathalyzer”) to confirm they consumed an alcohol beverage. The ALE’s officer notes the Defendant “blew a positive result” on the handheld Alcosensor and issue a Uniform Citation for “underage consumption.” The Defendant may be charged with Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20, a Class 3 Misdemeanor offense.

The Defendant is at the Fillmore Charlotte and takes a sip of a friend’s drink to see how “strong” it is. The Defendant is 20 years old. The Defendant may be charged with Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20, a Class 3 Misdemeanor offense.

The friend who allowed or otherwise encouraged the “sip” could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possibly “Giving a malt beverage” to someone under the age of 21 years old pursuant to § 18B-302.

The Defendant attends a tailgate before a Carolina Panthers football game. At the tailgate, there are cooler filled with beer and Jello shots. The Defendant takes a few Jello shots, and then heads to the stadium for the game. The Defendant may be charged with Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20, a Class 3 Misdemeanor offense.

To celebrate their 21st birthday, the Defendant goes out with some friends to celebrate. The Defendant turns 21 years old at midnight, but has a celebratory beer at 9:30 pm. The Defendant may be charged with Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20, a Class 3 Misdemeanor offense.

3. Related Offenses and Criminal Charges of Interest
  1. “Underage DWI” Charges
  2. Tips for hiring a Criminal Lawyer
  3. Information about Possession Charges
  4. Can I get my DWI charges dismissed?
  5. Campus Police and Criminal Charges on Campus
4. Defenses to Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20

Consume Alcohol by a Person Age 19/20 A Defendant can challenge the crime of Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20 with the following defenses: Age 21+ at the time of consumption, lack of knowledge or intent to consume an alcoholic beverage, Exemption under NC Criminal Law 18B-103(4), (8), or (11), or if the State does not have sufficient evidence.

5. Penalties

Under North Carolina Criminal Law 18B-302: Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20 is a Class 3 Misdemeanor offense, allowing for a maximum period of incarceration of up to 20 days.

Other terms and punishment conditions ordered by the Court can include:

  • Probationary Sentence
    • Unsupervised Probation
    • Supervised Probation
  • Performance of Community Service Hours
  • Alcohol Assessment, Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment
  • Costs of Court
  • Fines and Fees for Community Service
6. Criminal Defense for Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20

If you have been charged or cited for Consuming Alcohol by a Person Ages 19-20 we think it’s a good idea to talk to a criminal lawyer. Underage consumption charges can carry unanticipated consequences to work, school, and possibly with the NC DMV.

Call our team of Charlotte criminal lawyers at 704-342-4357 to discuss your case and discuss possible defenses to your charges.

You may also email Bill Powers at Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com

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