Another judge considers constitutionality of drinking age

Another judge is considering whether the South Carolina's drinking laws for the 18-20 age group are constitutional.

Sixteenth Circuit Judge Lee Alford heard an appeal June 2 in a Rock Hill case in which a municipal judge upheld the constitutionality of the state law banning those under 21 from possessing beer or wine. The York jurist, who has been on the bench since 1998, has yet to rule.

Alford's ruling would be binding only in York and Union counties, though it could be appealed to the state Court of Appeals or Supreme Court, which would have the final say.

In separate cases last month, a Richland County magistrate ruled that a state law prohibiting those 18 through 20 from possessing or consuming liquor was unconstitutional, while an Aiken County magistrate struck down that law and a similar law for beer and wine for the 18-20 age group. Their rulings, however, are not binding on the state because they are the lowest-level judges.

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