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Fact check: False claim that South Carolina has lowered the drinking age to 18

·3 min read
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  • Todd Rutherford
    American politician

The claim: South Carolina lowered the drinking age to 18

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed in 1984, requires states to prohibit people younger than 21 from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages.

On social media, however, some say South Carolina is bucking the law.

"They just lowered drinking age to 18 in South Carolina," reads text in a Facebook post shared Nov. 11.

The post generated close to 900 shares in less than a week.

But the claim is false.

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South Carolina's legal drinking age is 21, as other independent fact-checking organizations have noted. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford pre-filed a bill to lower the drinking age to 18, but the General Assembly won't review it until January.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment.

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Drinking age remains 21

The legal drinking age in South Carolina is 21, according to state law. Citizens younger than 21 may not possess alcoholic beverages, and those 21 and older cannot sell them to minors.

There are some caveats to this rule.

For example, if someone older than 18 is enrolled in a state-approved culinary course, they may drink alcohol. Spouses older than 21 may also give beer or wine to their underage partner in their home.

In 1984, South Carolina raised its drinking age from 18 to 21 to comply with federal regulations.

Rutherford is hoping to change that. He filed a bill Nov. 10 to lower the drinking age back to 18.

But filing is a bill is much different than passing one into law. In South Carolina, bills that are filed before a legislative session convenes, such as this one, are referred to committee.

The General Assembly will convene in January, when lawmakers will review the bill, according to an ABC affiliate TV station in Florence, South Carolina.

A similar bill failed to pass the South Carolina Legislature in 2007.

USA TODAY reached out to Rutherford and the South Carolina Legislature for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that South Carolina lowered the drinking age to 18. South Carolina's legal drinking age remains 21. One lawmaker is pushing a bill to lower the age to 18, but it has yet to be taken up by the Legislature.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: South Carolina's drinking age is 21, not 18