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South Carolina's laws concerning minor consumption of alcohol

Being a parent can be equally rewarding, frustrating and difficult. As children grow up, parents are constantly trying to find a balance between protecting and disciplining them and letting them learn about the world from making their own mistakes. However, it is important for South Carolina parents to understand the implications of the underage drinking laws in the state. If teenagers and their parents are not careful, a violation of these laws can have a life-changing impact for both parties.

Many parents tell their children that they should never drink and drive. This is good advice, but, unfortunately, when an individual is under the legal drinking age it will not always prevent an alcohol-related charge. Imagine this situation: your child is out with friends that have been drinking. Your child has not been drinking and gets into a vehicle with an underage driver who also has not been drinking. However, others that have been drinking also get into the vehicle and bring open alcohol containers in with them. If this vehicle is pulled over, even the minors that take a Breathalyzer registering no alcohol consumption can be charged with a minor consumption.

The laws regarding blood alcohol levels are also different for minors in South Carolina than for those that have reached the legal drinking age. Although drivers will be free from DUI charges as long as their B.A.C. is below .08, for minors that level is much lower at .02. A minor that registers a B.A.C. of .02 or higher will face drunk driving charges.

Lastly, it is important for parents to understand that they too can be implicated for their children and their children's friends' drinking behaviors. Under South Carolina law, hosts of social gatherings can be held liable for damages or harm caused by a drunken guest. Parents can even be held liable if they should have known that their children would be drinking. For example, did they leave their children in the house with an easily accessible liquor cabinet? If so, then they may be held liable.

It is always important to be educated on South Carolina's laws involving minors who are caught drinking or are under the influence of alcohol. If parents are aware, they can then pass this knowledge onto their children and hopefully save themselves and their family from an unnecessary encounter with the legal system.

Source: Columbia Metropolitan, "Are You Doing All You Can to Keep Your Teenager Safe?," Margaret Clay, Jan. 9, 2013

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