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North Carolina Alcohol Laws

Alcohol Laws Disclaimer Free Online DUI Case EvaluationWhere to Buy Alcohol

Retail stores sell beer and table wine, as do grocery stores and convenience marts. Spirits and fortified wines, such as port and sherry, are sold in state-owned ‘ABC’ stores only. Alcohol cannot be purchased from 2 a.m. until noon on Sundays.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

You must be 21 to consume alcohol in North Carolina, as in all states, but a person may work as a bartender, serve in a restaurant that sells alcohol, and sell spirits in a state-owned store at the age of 18. To sell beer or wine in a retail store, the seller may be of any age.

Open Container Laws

Previously opened bottles of alcohol should be carried in the trunk under open container laws.

BAC Limits

A driver is considered ‘per se intoxicated’ if chemically tested for intoxication and the blood-alcohol content (BAC) is more than .08 percent. This means that the evidence from the screening is sufficient evidence to charge the driver with a North Carolina DUI.

If a driver registers .16 percent or more BAC above the .08 percent legal limit or the driver refuses chemical testing when requested, that driver is subject to enhanced penalties.

To discourage underage drinking and driving, a driver under the age of 21 cannot operate a vehicle with any blood-alcohol content (BAC) levels. To do so incurs DUI penalties.


‘Implied consent laws’ require a driver to comply with breath, blood, or urine testing for intoxication if a law enforcement officer requests it. Refusing to cooperate could carry a penalty of driver’s license suspension for up to a year.

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) can suspend a driver’s license for 60 days for the first or second DUI conviction, and for the third offense suspension is 90 days.

With a fourth DUI conviction, the state of North Carolina can confiscate a driver’s vehicle either permanently or temporarily.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationThe courts can order that an ignition interlock device be attached to the convicted DUI offender’s vehicle at the driver’s expense. Under certain circumstances, education or treatment for alcohol abuse can be required.

DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.