As a minor (under the age of 21) in college, you may be put into situations in which you are exposed to alcohol at a college function. If you decide to consume alcohol and are later charged with the unlawful possession of alcohol, you should consider contacting a local attorney for legal advice and guidance. Read on to learn more.
Overview of Minor in Possession of Alcohol
In Michigan, any minor who purchases, consumes, or possess alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by fines and community service plus possible jail time for repeat offenders. Repeat offenders also face potential suspension of his/her driver license.
For example, if a minor is convicted for the first time of MIP, he/she will be subjected to paying a $100 fine and be subjected to participate in substance abuse prevention services or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services.
For a second violation, the minor will be subject to paying a $200 fine in addition to spending up to 30 days in jail (only if the minor violates his/her probation order) and participating in the above referenced substance abuse services. The minor’s driver license will be suspended for 90 days with no driving the first 30 days and restricted driving the remaining 60 days. Minors with out-of-state driver’s licenses may face a significantly longer suspension in their home state.
A third conviction will subject the minor to imprisonment for not more than 60 days (if found to have violated probation) and a court fine of $500.00. The minor’s driver license will be suspended for 1 year with no driving the first 60 days and restricted driving the remaining 305 days. Minors with out-of-state driver’s licenses may face a significantly longer suspension in their home state.
There are three primary ways police officers enforce MIP laws:
1. A minor actually or constructively possesses alcohol;
2. The police officer will conduct a preliminary breath test (PBT) to detect traces of alcohol of .02 or higher; and/or
3. The minor admits to consuming or possessing alcohol.
In Michigan, a PBT is not required. Minors must consent to a PBT or the officer must obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to force the minor to submit to a PBT.
It is also not necessary that the officer see the minor physically possess an alcoholic beverage in his/her hand or elsewhere on his/her person (i.e, in a pocket). It is sufficient that the officer be able to prove the minor has consumed an alcoholic beverage. Trained officers will observe the minor’s behavior, speech, physical appearance, and any odor of intoxicants on the minor’s person to establish consumption and/or possession of alcohol.
Minors who are required to possess alcohol during the course of employment (i.e., wait staff at bars and restaurants) and who consume alcohol as part of religious services have an affirmative defense and are exempt from criminal prosecution.
College Administrative Penalties
In addition to the criminal penalties you may be subjected to if convicted for MIP, your college’s administrative board may request you to attend a hearing to discuss your conduct and any repercussions that may derive thereof. Depending on the nature of your case, you may be suspended, placed on probation, or subjected to expulsion.
If you are taken into police custody, you should immediately invoke your right to counsel and to remain silent. Do not disclose anything to the police. Statements you make while in custody may be used against you.
Legal representation is essential if you are charged with MIP. You may have defenses or you may be eligible for a special diversion program that will allow you to avoid a criminal conviction and public record of the charge.
If you have been charged for MIP, I invite you to contact me for representation. I provide criminal defense representation to college students in the Ann Arbor area charged with MIP. Contact me at 734-274-6567 to speak with me directly or email me here.