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In South Carolina, juveniles can legally consume alcohol in their parents’ home

Few of the family law attorneys I know are aware of S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-2460, which states:

No provision of law prohibiting the use or possession of beer, wine, or alcoholic beverages by minors shall apply to any minor in the home of his parents or guardian or to any such beverage used for religious ceremonies or purposes so long as such beverage was legally purchased.

Given how few family law attorneys are aware of this statute, I imagine very few South Carolina parents are aware of it.  Yet there it is: South Carolina law explicitly authorizes parents to allow their children to consume alcohol within their home.

It’s ridiculous how this culture teaches children about alcohol.  Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker piece on “Drinking Games: The sociology of drinking” notes that many of the problems our culture encounters regarding drinking, especially among our young adults, are based on expectations that teenagers’ first experiences with alcohol will be through binge drinking by and with their peer.  How much more sensible is the culture of much of the rest of the world, in which children first learn to drink while with their parents and first experience alcohol in a moderate, responsible manner?  As  Gladwell concludes:

There is something about the cultural dimension of social problems that eludes us.   When confronted with the rowdy youth in the bar we are happy to raise his drinking age, to tax his beer, to punish him if he drives under the influence, and to push him into treatment if his habit becomes an addiction.   But we are reluctant to provide him with a positive and constructive example of how to drink. The consequences of that failure are considerable, because, in the end, culture is a more powerful tool in dealing with drinking than medicine, economics, or the law….Nowhere in the multitude of messages and signals sent by popular culture and social institutions about drinking is there any consensus about what drinking is supposed to mean.

South Carolina law explicitly authorizes parents to expose their children to alcohol in a responsible and moderate manner.  Rather than pretending our children won’t consume alcohol until age 21, while hoping they avoid the binge drinking common among high school and college students, perhaps we should be teaching our children sensible drinking habits within our homes.

  • markgibson

    does this also apply to families on vacation staying in a hotel/condo?

  • LoAna Cooper

    Is this law still in place with the tougher enforcement of underage drinking laws?

    SC has a lot of public campaigns about adults serving alcohol to minors, and the wording implies that you can’t serve to your own child in your own home, but it’s not actually stated in any of the materials I have come across.

    I was discussing this with a friend the other day.

    • 374gatorgirl

      In the campaigns I’ve heard on the radio and TV, they definitely indicate that the illegal part is the serving of alcohol in your house to those under 21 that are NOT your own children. It doesn’t say that you can’t give it to your own child….

  • allen lagrange

    my son was 28 yrs old. my neice was 16. she was visiting aug.2 2012 from Massachusetts. my older niece and nephew brought her here for the summer. they were responsible for her. they let her drink cause of the s.c. law. but, they were letting her and her 16 year old friend from aiken drink till they were drunk. they walked to my 28 yr old sons house. they next morning my son was being investigated for giving alcohol to 2 minors and criminal sexual conduct 1st degree. the way the law is written. my neice and nephew should be the one behind bars not my son. the law states that if you let your child or guardian drink, they leave, and hurt or get hurt your responsible. not in aiken county. you just have to say”i didn’t know they were drinking” I didn’t allow it to happen”. my son shouldn’t be sitting behind bars waiting for trial. someone help me. 803-502-5586

  • allen lagrange

    im sorry I am adding on to my previous comment. minors not on alcohol flirt and a permsquios (I know its not spelt right) enough on there own. parents and gaurdians that let there kids drink and leave the house, like my younger neice and friend, what do you you think there going to do? my nieces girlfriend here in aiken, at 15 yrs old, was pregnant, and now has a baby with a 28yr. old man. but the detective did nothing till I informed her today that I contacted chief keel at sled. WE AS CONCERNED PARENTS,AND OUR GOVERMENT,NEEDS TO GET RID OF THIS REDICULOUS LAW. what parent in there right mind would give their minor child ANY alcoholic beverage to drink. children have enough problems handling childhood. so lets introduce them to alcohol? shame on you if your one that does.

  • Ron

    To the above comment. Just because one situation spiraled out or control does not mean they all l do. I’m 17 Years-old and I drink perfectly fine, and in fact learned to drink responsibly… This law, I see at least, is an opportunity for parents to teach their kids about alcohol. Kids are going to drink no matter the law, just as kids do drugs and have sex. Regardless of the alcohol being put in the situation your son fucked up. He had sex with an underage girl and instead of facing up too his actions and not being a pussy it seems you are using alcohol as a scape goat… Before you judge a situation why don’t you look deeper into the facts. If I hurt someone or rob someone while I’m drunk claiming it was the alcohol that did it is no excuse… Period.. I’m sorry this happened too you but the reality is alcohol isn’t all bad, its a nice way to relax and bond with people, and even enjoy life a little more based on your warped perceptions. I know this isn’t what you want to hear but it’s reality. Kids will be kids and the situation you have shows several things… One of them being you didn’t talk to your kids about the effects physical and mental of alcohol, or that your son is just a pedophile and belongs behind bars… As an adult he should no better, and he’s right where he belongs.

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