Courts & Crime

Judge halts efforts to lower drinking age in South Carolina

South Carolinians ages 18 to 20 cannot drink alcohol, and recent legal efforts to authorize such drinking would create "absurd" results, a circuit court judge ruled Wednesday.

A Rock Hill man and his attorney had challenged a state law that bans the possession and consumption of alcohol by people younger than 21. They argued that the state Constitution only allows a ban on selling alcohol to minors.

That means the constitution allows minors to possess and drink alcohol, argued Rock Hill attorney James W. Boyd. They just can't buy it.

But 16th Circuit Judge Lee Alford disagreed. He ruled that the General Assembly clearly intended to ban possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by people younger than 21 when legislators proposed and later ratified a constitutional amendment in the 1970s.

That amendment says those 18 and older have "full legal rights and responsibilities, provided that the General Assembly may restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons until age twenty-one."

In 2008, the state Supreme Court cited that section of the constitution when it tossed out a law forbidding the possession of guns by people younger than 21.


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