Alcohol Laws in North Carolina

beach day

Summertime in North Carolina is a great time of year, with many State Parks, Lakes, Beaches, and events, there is always something to do. When you are enjoying these things, it is important to know the laws state and local that control each and every activity.

Alcohol in Public

Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages in public is controlled at a local level. Violation of a local ordinance in North Carolina is classified as a class 3 misdemeanor and can be, depending on your prior record, punishable by up to 20 days in jail. While many localities outright ban the possession and consumption of alcohol in public, there are some such as Mecklenburg county that have begun to ease back on this restriction. Mecklenburg county and the city of Charlotte have created what are being called social districts. These social districts are areas where people can walk with open, to-go containers of alcohol in a contiguous area during the specified days and times. These social districts must be approved by the city and there is an online form to aid in that. These social districts are different than when there are events such as concerts, sporting events, or other large-scale gatherings where there is some level of relaxation of the open-container policy.

Because violation of these ordinances is a misdemeanor offense, it is important to speak to an attorney about your options and the different ways to fight these charges to keep your record clean and to make sure that you don’t take an unnecessary conviction.

Alcohol in State Parks

Generally, the possession or consumption of alcohol in a state park is prohibited. This means that if you are camping within the bounds of a state park you are not allowed to possess or consume alcohol. Furthermore, 07 NCAC 13B .1003 states that, not only is it illegal to possess or consume alcohol within the bounds of a state park, it is also illegal to become intoxicated and remain on the state park. Violation of this statute is also a misdemeanor and can, depending on your prior record, lead to jail time.

There is an exception to this general rule, you can apply for a special activity permit which would allow the possession and consumption of alcohol during the specified time and within the specified area. This application must be maid in writing to the Director of the Division of State Parks no less than 14 days prior to the time requested. There are very specific regulations on what this request must contain and it is a good idea to consult an attorney for these to ensure that you get everything you need and don’t chance a misdemeanor charge on your record.

Alcohol on North Carolina Beaches

Another very common area that people like to enjoy a drink is on one of North Carolina’s many beaches. And like areas of the general public and the state parks, there is a unique set of rules governing the consumption of alcohol on North Carolina’s beaches. The general rule for North Carolina beaches is that the consumption of beer and wine is permitted on the beach, while the possession and consumption of liquor is prohibited. The type of container that each kind of permitted drink must be in is controlled by the local ordinances and changes depending on where you are. If you have questions about these local ordinances, you can speak to a knowledgeable attorney who can help you.

If you find yourself with a question or have been charged with a violation of one of North Carolina’s alcohol related laws, call the criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith today!