Underage consumption of alcohol or underage possession of alcohol can be charged to any person who is under the age of 21 and has alcohol in their system.
This charge commonly occurs when underage people drink before they go out to the bars. There are many bars in Wilmington which allow people under the age of 21 into the bar. A common practice is to “pre-game” at home by drinking before going to the bars.
Once they get to the bar and present their identification, if they appear intoxicated, many of the bouncers will notify law enforcement. Simply smelling of alcohol is enough to be charged with underage consumption. A common misconception is that if the officer does not give the person charged a test for alcohol, the charge is invalid.
It is a separate offense to present a fake identification to enter a bar to drink underage. A conviction for this offense will result in suspension of the person’s driving privilege in NC. This suspension applies even if the driver is licensed in another state, such as a student at UNCW or a Marine stationed at Lejeune who came downtown to drink.
The good news is that there are programs available that can result in the charges being dismissed. Consult an attorney about your options to avoid conviction and suspension of your driver’s license.