Underaged Kids Drinking

Understanding a MIP

In many states, there are minor in possession laws that deal with drugs and alcohol found with minors.

These laws apply without considering whether or not the minor was consuming the substances. In some states, minors are prosecuted and face serious sentences under MIP laws while in others, they are allowed probation through a diversionary program and on condition that they seek medical help and avoid trouble. In case a minor is sentenced to imprisonment under MIP laws, they could post bail by hiring a bail bonds service to place a bond amount on their behalf for an agreed upon commission. The following web page seeks to define MIP laws, punishment for MIP violations, and the defenses for MIP violations.

What is a MIP?

Minor in possession refers to a criminal offense dictated by state laws which are different in every jurisdiction. These laws involve the possession of drugs and alcoholic drinks by an underage party. Anyone below 21 years of age is guilty of a misdemeanor if found in possession of drugs or alcohol. U.S. federal law recognizes 21 years as the minimum age for drinking alcohol. However, underage drinking is determined by state laws which are different. While in some states it may be a civil offense, in others it is regarded as a criminal one.

Punishment for a MIP

In most states, a minor found in possession of alcohol can be punished in the following ways:

  • Payment of fines
  • Revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license
  • Community service
  • Enrollment into an alcohol education institute

Some of the factors influencing punishment are the age of the offender, whether the offender was legally intoxicated during the time of the violation, and whether the offender has committed a MIP offense before or any other illegal behavior.

Punishment also varies depending on the laws in one’s jurisdiction. For example, in California, if a person is convicted for a MIP violation for the first time, their driver’s license will be suspended for one year. However, if the minor has no driver’s license, the court may order that the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) not to give the minor a license until after one year from the time of their conviction. In other jurisdictions, the punishment for a MIP is moderate for a first offender but severe for repeated offenders. In other states, there are certain conditions that can subject you to a MIP violation. For example, in Missouri, if a minor appears intoxicated, they may be convicted for a MIP violation.

In some states, people who are legally allowed to drink alcohol are guilty of a crime when they give alcohol or buy alcohol for an underage person. However, in other states, the law allows a parent or guardian to give alcohol to their child provided they consume it while the adult is present and at home or at a private location. In certain states, exceptions to a MIP violation apply when a minor is found in possession of alcohol in the course of their employment or use it during religious occasions.

Defenses for a MIP Violation

No Alcohol in the Container

When charged with a MIP violation, one of the defenses you may raise is that there was no alcohol in the bottle or can that was found in your possession. This could either imply that the alcohol was consumed by someone else and the bottle left in your car or room, or that the empty bottle was being used for another purpose. The burden of proof is normally on you to show the court that the container found in your possession lacked alcohol.

Legal Consumption of Alcohol

In some states, you may be allowed to consume alcohol if you are 19 or 20 years old. For example, in Michigan, 19 and 20 year olds may defend themselves in a MIP case by claiming they drank alcohol legally.

Alcohol Consumed During a Religious Event

If a minor drink’s alcohol during a religious service, like Sabbath wine, or sacramental wine in Christian rituals, they can defend a MIP charge.

Minor in Possession laws are generally meant to protect underage people from the effects of drugs and alcohol. In most cases, these laws attract minor punishments such as community service and license suspension. The defense for a MIP violation usually varies from one state to another and may include raising the question of the legal consumption of alcohol or the absence of alcohol in the container.

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