Underage Drinking Penalties in SC

If found guilty, a person faces some harsh underage drinking penalties in South Carolina. Both for the minor caught in possession of alcohol or intoxicated, and the other party that gave them the alcohol.

Underage drinking is a serious problem. Not just in South Carolina, but across the US.

Not only does a minor put their own health at risk when drinking, but it also increases the risk of aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, and future addiction problems.

This is why there are strict laws in place in South Carolina to punish minors caught drinking under the legal age, and anyone found to be supplying them alcohol.

Underage Drinking Statistics in South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), underage drinking is one of South Carolina’s most serious health issues.

The following facts help to put the severity of this problem into perspective:

  • 25.4% of ninth-12th graders will have drank alcohol in the past month.
  • Around 85 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol use each year.
  • The effects of underage drinking are responsible for $1 billion per year in costs.
  • 58.5% of ninth-12th graders in SC have tried alcohol.
  • 14.2 of these minors had their first drink before the age of 13.

Defining Underage Drinking in South Carolina

Under South Carolina law juvenile justice code section 63-19-2440, underage drinking is defined as;

It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one to purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, or knowingly possess beer, ale, porter, wine, or other similar malt or fermented beverage.

Simply put; it’s illegal to buy and/or drink alcohol under the age of 21.

A law enforcement officer has the right to request a minor to take a breathalyzer test if they have any probable cause to believe they may have had a drink.

Moreover, if it’s proven that a minor has consumed alcohol, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. This may be for the illegal alcohol purchase, possession, and/or consumption depending on the circumstances.

Underage Drinking Penalties in South Carolina

Underage Drinking Penalties in South Carolina

The penalties for being found guilty of underage drinking in South Carolina are as follows:

Illegal Alcohol Purchase, Possession, or Consumption – These violations are punishable with a fine of between $100-$200 and up to 30 days in jail. The judge can also order the minor to attend a DAODAS approved alcohol prevention.

Misrepresenting Age – If a minor misrepresents their age for the purpose of buying alcohol, this is also punishable with a fine of between $100-$200 and up to 30 days in jail.

Penalties for an Underage DUI in South Carolina

Driving under the influence while underage presents more dangers to the minors involved and the general public. Therefore, it’ll come as no surprise that the punishments are even more severe.

South Carolina has a zero-tolerance approach to underage DUIs. For an adult, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 percent or higher is over the limit.

For a minor under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.2 percent is the legal limit. A breathalyzer test showing 0.2 percent or higher will result in a DUI charge. Moreover, It’s also possible to receive charges if a minor is unable to operate a vehicle safely.

Punishments for an underage DUI offense in South Carolina are as follows:

Penalties for an underage DUI offense – Depending on the BAC reading, a minor faces fines of $400-$1,000 and up to 30 days in jail. The defendant’s driver’s license will also face suspension for up to six months. In addition, they may also be forced to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Outside of these court-appointed punishments, there are also serious implications that can affect a minor’s future. Moreover, having a DUI on your record can increase vehicle insurance, make it more difficult to work in certain industries, affect financial applications, and more.

Transfer of Alcohol to an Underage Person

Under South Carolina law it’s illegal for an adult to give alcohol to a minor. This is called ‘transfer of alcohol’, and is covered under Section 61-6-4070 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.

Essentially, what this means is that a person transferring or giving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 can face charges of supplying alcohol to a minor.

This includes both those licensed to sell alcohol, and acquaintances, family members, friends, etc.

Punishments for Supplying Alcohol to a Minor in SC

First offense – The offender will have to pay a fine of between $200-$300. They also face up to 30 days in jail.

Second and subsequent offenses – The offender faces fines of between $400-$500. They also face up to 30 days in jail.

If the offender is a licensee, they will be automatically face conviction if they fail to request their identification card or knowingly sell alcoholic beverages to a minor.


There are some exemptions to be aware of. A person may knowingly give alcohol to a minor if;

  • A spouse over the age of twenty-one is giving alcohol to their spouse in their own home.
  • A parent or guardian is giving alcohol to their children in their home; or
  • The person giving alcohol to a minor is doing so due to a religious ceremony.

Facing Any Underage Drinking-Related Charges? Call the Office of Shaun Kent Today

If you or your minor are facing any underage drinking-related charges, it’s vital you contact our attorneys at Shaun Kent Law Firm LLC right away.

Being found guilty of an underage drinking offense can have a serious impact on the rest of your life. It’s essential we start working on a defense to minimize your charges – or get your case thrown out – as soon as possible.

Call us today on 803-433-5368, or contact us via this form. We’ll get right back to you to arrange a free consultation to discuss your case.