Minor in Possession of Alcohol in South Carolina
A Minor in possession of alcohol charge in South Carolina is a misdemeanor criminal offense, that says if you are under the age of 21 it is illegal to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol. Do you even need an attorney for something like this? What if I told you that your license to drive will also be suspended for 120 days if you just pay the fine. That little nugget is not listed in the statute for this charge. Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC and today we’re talking about Minor in possession of alcohol charges in South Carolina.
What’s the Law?
To be charged with this offense the prosecutor must show that you are:
- Under the age of 21; and
- That you did purchase, attempted to purchase or knowingly possessed any beer wine or similar malt beverage.
As you can see, there’s not much the state has to establish to prove their case. Even worse, there is no mandatory requirement that police perform any type of alcohol screening. Also, if you read the statute closely, just being in possession of alcohol means you can be charged with this crime. That’s right, police don’t even need to prove you drank alcohol to give you a ticket.
What You need to Do
So, what should you do when facing this type of charge? The number one thing not to do is just go ahead and pay the fine. Why, because paying the fine is pleading guilty which will lead to a number of collateral consequences.
First, you will have to successfully complete at least 8 hours of an approved alcohol education program.
Second, your license to drive will be suspended for 120 days. That’s right, despite the fact that you were never driving or even inside a vehicle when you were charged, it is mandatory that your license be suspended after pleading guilty. Don’t forget, paying the fine is pleading guilty.
Third, you now have a criminal record that cannot be expunged for a minimum of three years.
It’s these collateral consequences that mean you should do everything you can to get these charges dismissed. If the charge is dismissed, you want have to pay a fine, your license will not be suspended and you won’t have a criminal record.
Charleston Criminal Defense Attorney
What’s important to remember is that you do have options in these types of cases and good criminal attorneys can help explore them for you, so if you are facing a Minor in possession charge and have questions about your case, please call me at (843) 530-7813. I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.