Sheriff Jay Koon

The first day of summer officially starts tomorrow and that means it’s time to gather with friends and family for cookouts and barbeques. For many, a big part of get-togethers is enjoying an alcoholic beverage. But, with the privilege of drinking comes great responsibility.

Don’t think about it if you’re under 21.

In South Carolina, it’s against the law to provide alcohol to those who are underage. It is unlawful for those under 21 to possess, consume, purchase (or attempt to) beer, wine or liquor. Using a fake ID, altered ID or someone else’s ID to purchase alcohol is illegal and could result in a large fine, losing your driver’s license, and/or getting a jail sentence.

Additionally, the South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that if an adult allows underage drinking on his/her property and a juvenile ends up causing damage, injury or death to himself or others, then the adult can be held civilly liable, reports the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

Headed to college? According to DAODAS, two violations of any alcohol-related laws can also cause you to lose your state-funded grants and/or scholarships for an entire year.

Don’t think about it if you’re getting behind the wheel.

In South Carolina, the legal limit is .08 percent. If you’re operating a vehicle and have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher, it will be inferred you were driving while under the influence of alcohol (DAODAS). Getting a DUI will result in a fine and possibly imprisonment. You could lose your license, receive higher insurance rates, and/or be required to complete a substance abuse program. If you refuse to submit to chemical testing to determine your BAC, your driver’s license might be suspended.

If you drive under the influence and cause death or great bodily injury to another person, accident or not, it is a felony and you will go to jail. You also cannot have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle (unless stowed in a trunk or luggage compartment).

In 2017, our state ranked second in the country for drunk-driving deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 6.23 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people in South Carolina.

I encourage you to stay safe this summer by making smart choices.