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College kids can gain criminal records by possessing alcohol

There are a number of violations that the state of South Carolina can charge a college kid with when it comes to alcohol. Perhaps considered relatively innocuous is the minor in possession code section. However, it is a crime to possess alcohol when under the age of 21, much less drink it.

Section 20-7-8920 relates to precisely this crime, the one applicable to the college kid who is engaging in underage drinking, the favorite pastime of many young adults as they leave home to live on campus.

The law prohibits more than just drinking underage

This code section covers a number of actions on the part of the young adult, not the least of which is the illegal consumption of alcohol. Avoiding drinking and driving, while smart, is not enough to stay out of trouble.


Young adults are also violating this law when they purchase alcohol or attempt to purchase it. This charge stands even if the minor uses a fake identification, which is an entirely different charge.


Moreover, the mere possession of the alcohol can land an under-21 person in trouble. If the person did not buy or attempt to buy alcohol and did not even drink it but had it in his or her possession, charges may result.

It does not matter the reason for the possession, including safeguarding it for another who is legally old enough to possess or consume. The young person is in violation of the law, typically.

Possession exception for employed servers 18 years old or more

There is an exception, however, for those under 21 years of age who have employment as a server of alcohol at the time of the possession.

Included in the definition of alcohol for the purposes of this violation is beer, wine, porter or ale, or malt or fermented beverages. That a beer may be a light beer will not negate the applicability of the code.


The fine for a minor under this alcohol law is a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200. Punishment may also include jail time of up to 30 days. Moreover, the young adult will have to carve out additional time for successfully completing an approved educational or interventional program concerning alcohol prevention.

Perhaps just as painful for a college kid on the go is the driver's license suspension for four months for that first offense. If the young person dares violate this law again, he or she is flirting with a year-long loss of license. Often, people associate the loss of license with driving while intoxicated, but as seen here, minors in possession may also lose their driving privileges.


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