434 Fayetteville St #2030
Raleigh, NC 27601

Alcohol Offenses

Many criminal offenses are tied to alcohol. Whether young or old, you may face accusations of illegal behavior related to alcoholic beverages, from unlawful possession to illegally providing alcohol to minors to being intoxicated and disruptive. While most are misdemeanors, do not let a conviction tarnish your criminal record.

Raleigh Alcohol Offense Lawyer

A dedicated Raleigh alcohol offense lawyer will fight for you if you face any one of the charges related to liquor, beer and wine. We will develop a strategy to seek the best possible result for your case, whether it involves negotiating a diversion program or challenging the evidence in court. Alcohol offenses may be common, but you should still take them very seriously.

Call us today at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Wake County, including Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Wendell, Fuquay-Varina, Garner and Knightdale.


Information on Alcohol Offenses


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Alcohol Charges Relating to Underage People

Given the current media backlash against lenient treatment for young people charged with alcohol related offenses, the District Attorney’s office has responded with a dedicated effort to prosecute these crimes and judges seem determined to impose stiffer penalties with long term consequences. The legal age to purchase, possess or consume alcohol in the state of North Carolina is 21.

If a person younger than 21 even possesses an alcoholic beverage, he commits a Class 3 misdemeanor, unless he:

  1. possesses it in the course of his employment in manner approved by the state;
  2. is in a licensed and accredited culinary program; or
  3. possesses the alcohol as part of an organized religious ceremony.

An underage person who consumes an alcoholic beverage also commits a Class 3 misdemeanor, unless part of a culinary program or religious ceremony. If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a person under 21 has consumed alcohol, the officer may require the person take an alcohol screening test. The person may refuse, although the refusal is admissible in court.

Any person 21 or older who assists an underage person obtain alcohol may face even more serious charges. Providing alcohol to a person under 21 years old is a Class 1 misdemeanor.  This includes aiding and abetting by purchasing alcohol to provide to the underage person or by allowing the underage person to use his driver’s license or other identification. A person would be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor if the person allegedly aiding and abetting is younger than 21.

For example, if Raleigh police “raid” an off-campus NCSU party, they might cite every person under 21 possessing or consuming alcohol with a Class 3 misdemeanor. The hosts of the party, however, may face a Class 2 misdemeanor if they are younger than 21, and a Class 1 misdemeanor if older.


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Public Intoxication in North Carolina

Being intoxicated in public is not illegal in North Carolina.  However, being “intoxicated and disruptive” is a Class 3 misdemeanor. This includes private property that is open to the public.

Under § 14-444 of the North Carolina General Statutes, a person is intoxicated and disruptive if the person:

Alcoholism can be argued as a defense to being intoxicated and disruptive in public. Your attorney can bring this to the attention of the court and the presiding judge will consider this when deciding your case.


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Driving Offenses

Driving while impaired is a common but serious offense. If convicted, a person charged with DWI faces probation, jail time, license suspension, required use of an ignition interlock device, and more.

Having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle, even if parked, also creates criminal liability.  Containers with seals broken qualify as “open” containers.


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Alcohol Education Alternative

While most alcohol-related offenses are misdemeanors, you should still seriously consider the consequences of such a conviction. 

Those with no prior convictions facing certain alcohol-related charges for the first time in Wake County may have the option of going through an alcohol education program. Upon successfully completing the program, the prosecutor will drop the charges.

Offenses covered include:


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Finding the Best Alcohol Offense Attorney in Wake County

Keep your criminal record clean at all costs.  Misdemeanor alcohol related offenses can tarnish your record for a lifetime.  Do not listen to that officer who tells you to simply pay off your “drinking ticket.”  Do not let a moment of immature indiscretion impact school, work, financial aid, or family.  A conviction will go on your record and could have grave implications far into the future. Contact a skilled Raleigh alcohol offense lawyer from the Coolidge Law Firm today to represent you. We will aggressively pursue all legal entitlements under the law to make sure that your indiscretion does not jeopardize your entire future.

Call us at (919) 239-8448 to set up a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Wake County, including Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Holly Springs, Garner, Zebulon and Rolesville.

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David Coolidge
David A. Coolidge
is heading up our team as criminal defense attorney and graduate at the top of his class from Duke University School of Law ...
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Steven MacGilvray
Steven P. MacGilvray
Steven P. MacGilvray is an Associate Attorney at Coolidge Law Firm, focusing primarily on Criminal Defense. Mr. MacGilvray graduated from Regent University School of Law ...
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Brent Blakesley
Brent Blakesley
manages the daily operations at Coolidge Law Firm. Brent graduated from Duke University in 2008 with a BA in Computer Science, BA in Linguistics ...
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