MIP: A Minor in
Possession

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A Minor In Possession

Many states have minor possession laws (MIPs) regarding alcohol and drugs found in the possession of minors, whether or not they use the substances.

Some states strictly enforce MIP laws and prosecute minors to the fullest extent of the law. In other states, however, a minor in a MIP case can be put on probation by entering a court-ordered diversion program, getting medical help, and avoiding trouble.

MIP Laws: What Are They?

educate minors about the dangers of drinking and driving;
Get chemical dependency treatment and help for minors;
Involve minors in community service.

A educate minors about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Get chemical dependency treatment and help for minors.
Involve minors in community service.

In California, first-time offenders convicted of violating the MIP may have their driver’s license suspended for one year. If the minor does not have a driver’s license, the court will order the Department of Motor Vehicles not to issue a license until a full year after the minor’s conviction.

Other states’ PID laws provide moderate penalties for the first offense, but the severity increases for subsequent convictions. In Missouri, you can be convicted of a PID violation if you just seem to be intoxicated.

You do not need to drive to be convicted of breaking a MIP law.

You also don’t have to be legally drunk under your state’s DUI laws to be convicted of MIP.

The fact that you:

  1. are younger than the legal drinking age at the time of the quotation; and
  2. had alcohol in your possession; or
  3. attempted to buy alcohol; or
  4. drank alcohol

may be sufficient to prove that you violated your state’s MIP laws, or the laws of another state that you were visiting.

MIP Violations And Losing Your Driver’s License

Some states require multiple MIP convictions before permanently losing your license. Other states, such as California, can withdraw your driver’s license for a single MIP offense.

Defenses against charges of minor possession

Defenses against charges of PMI can be raised, but the validity of the defenses largely depends on national and local laws.

Some MIP defenses include:

The Alcohol Was Consumed in a Religious Service
There Was No Alcohol in the Container Held by the Minor
The burden is on the defendant to show that the container s/he was holding lacked alcohol.
A minor legally consumed alcohol
Some states allow young people between the ages of 19 and 20 to legally consume alcohol. In Michigan, for example, a 19-year-old can challenge a MIP charge by claiming that he has been drinking alcohol legally in Wisconsin or in Canada where he is perfectly legal for them to drink alcohol.
If a minor drank alcohol as part of a religious service (e.g., sacramental wine, Sabbath wine), s/he may be able to defend a MIP charge.

Minor In Possession (MIP) Charges – Your Legal Rights

If you or a loved one experienced face legal charges of violating your state’s MIP laws, you may be able to defend and fight the charge in court.

It is very important that you contact a DUI or criminal defense attorney to learn how they may be able to help you or your family in a MIP case.

Some of the legal factors that a minor in possession defense attorney can review with you include:
Whether you or your loved ones, given the particular facts of your case, actually violated city or state law;

If the police or the police officer who made the arrest respected the law; Whether or not your conduct constituted a criminal offense; and If you have an affirmative defense in the MIP case.

MIP Laws – Getting Legal Help

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  • “Not gonna lie. I was scared at first – of course w anything w laws it’s very scary. But David was very professional , honest and true to his word. I felt so much better and confident that he was definitely gonna help me. And he did !! I’m truly grateful for him and his staff- his assistant Jessica is very warm and kind and is always on top of everything. Thank you guys so much!”

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