Underage Drinking Laws & Facts

Vehicle Accidents

A leading cause of deaths for young people age 15-19.  Vehicle accidents account for 1/3 of teen deaths  annually.  44% of vehicle fatalities are DUI related.

Minor in Possession of Alcohol

If you are under 21 years of age it is illegal to:

Possess, Consume,Purchase or attempt to Purchase 


Penalty of 30 days in Jail fine of $470 or more and loss of your drivers license for 120 days.

Sale or Transfer

It is illegal to SELL or GIVE  to any person under 21 years of age (except parents or guardians in the home) BEER, WINE, or LIQUOR  

Penalty is 30 days in JAIL or fines between $677 and $1,092.  

Fake ID's & Altered Driver Licenses

Possession, altering or use of an others drivers license or ID is a violation of the law.  If you lie or provide false information about your age to purchase beer,wine,or liquor you have violated the law. If you lend, borrow or sell a false/altered driver license or ID you have violated the law.

Penalties to include 30 days to 6 months in Jail, fines that could exceed $5,000 or both.  Suspension of your license for 120 days up to 1 year.

Implied Consent


Implied consent:

South Carolina law states that any person driving in this state is considered to have given consent for testing of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol and/or drugs in the person’s system, if alleged to have committed a violation. If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, you face an automatic 90-day suspension (180 days if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension within the preceding ten years) of your driving privileges if you are 21 or older. 

(S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-5-2950 and 56-5-2951)


Zero Tolerance


Zero tolerance:

South Carolina law prohibits persons under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.02 percent. A person under 21 who drives with a BAC greater than 0.02 percent faces an automatic suspension of his driver’s license for three months (six months if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension with the preceding five years). If a person under 21 refuses to consent to BAC testing, his driver’s license will be automatically suspended for six months (one year if there is a prior alcohol-related conviction or suspension within the preceding five years).

(S.C. Code of Laws 56-1-286)

Local & State statistics

South Carolina Dept. of Public Safety


Number of Lives Lost in Traffic Fatalities Last 3 Years in South Carolina

2015-979  2016-1020  2017-987

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the most dangerous days of the week between the hours of 3pm-3am

44% of fatal crashes the driver had a BAC level of 0.08% or higher

 In South Carolina, it is inferred that you are under the influence when your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reaches a level of 0.08%. At this level, you are 7 times more likely to have a traffic collision than if your BAC is zero. If your BAC reaches 0.15 percent, your chances of having a traffic collision are 25 times greater.   

From 2012 thru 2016 the 2nd Judicial Circuit


An estimated 70 traffic fatalities where attributed to drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or greater.  During the same period of time 1,099 non fatal accidents involving DUI occurred.  

Between 2013-2015 

Aiken County 

More than 37 underage persons  17-20 arrested for DUI.  More than 40 minors were ticketed for open container in a vehicle.  Over 4 dozen cases of Minor in Possession of Alcohol.  Approximately 100 cases of Simple Possession of Marijuana.   

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division


SLED is the state agency tasked with enforcement of alcohol licensing and violation.  SLED Special Agents conduct hundreds of retail inspections each month throughout the state.  They also conducted hundreds of compliance checks as well as source investigations into dozens of underage traffic accidents.

Alcohol Compliance Checks FY 2016



   Aiken                 218

   Barnwell            120

   Bamberg             20

Total Sales   46  Buy Rate 13%

Alcohol Compliance Checks FY 2017


COUNTY             CHECKS

Aiken                     178

Barnwell                103

Bamberg                 65


Total Sales  27         Buy Rate 8%

Alcohol Compliance Checks FY 2018


COUNTY           CHECKS      

Aiken                 120     

Barnwell            100      

Bamberg             58      


Total sales 15                   Buy rate 5%


Alcohol Compliance Checks, & PREP

Additional Information

Alcohol Compliance Checks- Follow strict guidelines set down from The SC Dept. of Revenue or DOR. 

1) UCI must be between 16-19 years old.(2)UCI must have a drivers license or ID.  If UCI is asked for his/her identification they MUST present their true ID (3) UCI must answer honestly if asked for their age. (4) Copy of UCI identification card must be in case file. (5) UCI picture must be taken before operation. (6) UCI can only carry their ID a cell phone and buy money when entering a location. (7) UCI searched before operation to confirm only above items are on their person. (8) UCI can NOT have beards or wear heavy make-up or clothing that may appear to make them look older. (9) UCI MUST have a clean record and NOT be "working off " other charges. (10) UCI must be able to attend hearings in Magistrate or Administrative courts. (11) UCI MUST complete a "Buy Statement". (12) Agents must maintain all evidence. (13) If UCI is compensated for the operation it can NOT depend on results MUST be the same whether successful or not. (14) All results must be documented. 

PREP- The Palmetto Retailers Education Program is a 4 hour course that helps reduce underage access to alcohol and tobacco products in our communities, while lowering the liability risks for businesses and their employees. 

Juvenile Laws

When you are considered an Adult

In South Carolina you are considered an adult for most purposes upon your 18th birthday.  The major exception is purchasing alcohol.  You must be 21 yrs old to buy or consume alcohol.


Children's Law Center

USC School of Law


Drivers License Option

Beginners Permit at age 15.  Allows you to drive with a licensed driver 21 or older.

Conditional License-(15yrs less than 16yrs) Permit for 6 months complete drivers education and satisfactory school attendance.

Special Restricted-(16yrs less than 17yrs) Permit 6 months complete driver education and satisfactory school attendance.  Allows you to drive by yourself during DAYLIGHT HOURS. (There are waivers)

Regular License (No Restrictions)- 17 yrs old had a permit for 6 months.

What Happens if I Don't Obey My Parents

Your parents have the right to expect your cooperation and obedience.  Continued refusal to attend school, running away from home or other disruptive behavior could cause a Family Court Judge to fine you "incorrigible" (beyond your parents control). 

Can My Parents get in Trouble for Things That I Do?

YES! Your parents are responsible for exercising supervision and control over you.  This means that they must make an effort to keep you from breaking the law. On the other hand, if you are 17 years and have a record of being incorrigible then your parents may kick you out of their home and stop supporting you in any manner. 


You are required by law to attend a public  or private school or an approved home study program from age 5 until your 17th birthday or until you graduate.  If you willfully fail to attend you may be found guilty of truancy.

Can a Teacher Search My Book Bag?

YES! Under South Carolina law, any person who enters onto school property is deemed to have consented to a search of their person and property.  A school administrator or official may conduct a reasonable search of your locker desk vehicle and personal belongings  such as purses book bags and wallets.