What The Law Says About Minor In Possession (MIP)

In the United States, Minor in Possession (MIP) refers to a criminal offense involving an individual less than 21 years of age who is in possession of alcohol. In the U.S., it is almost always illegal for a minor to possess an alcoholic beverage. If law enforcement is able to demonstrate (with sufficient evidence) that an individual under the age of 21 has been drinking or is in possession of alcohol, the underage individual may be charged with the juvenile crime of Minor in Possession. Typically, an MIP charge is a misdemeanor. Technically, the term “minor in possession” is incorrect. Why? Anyone under the age of 21 can be charged. Therefore, individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 may still be charged with MIP—even though they aren’t technically minors.

Possession Of Alcohol By A Minor (MIP)

Possession of Alcohol by a Minor is illegal in Texas and includes possession, ownership, or control of any beverage containing alcohol. In order to receive an MIP citation, law enforcement must be able to reasonably demonstrate that an individual less than 21 years of age committed the infraction. Generally, a minor can be accused if he/she attempts to purchase, touch, hold, transport or consume alcohol. As a result, many MIP citations occur at nightclubs or parties.

What Are The Consequences?

An MIP charge is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine. If the minor has been convicted of MIP in the past, he/she may incur an additional fine between $250 and $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail, or both. Additionally, individuals convicted of MIP may have their drivers’ license suspended for 30 to 60 days (up to six months if there are prior convictions) and be required to perform community service. Subsequent convictions may also result in required drug and alcohol attendance classes.

Statistics Of Underage Drinking

In 2011, a Youth Risk Behavior Study indicated that 39% of high school students drank alcohol within the preceding 30 days from when the survey was taken. 22% of students participated in binge drinking and 8% operated a motor vehicle after drinking. Additionally, 24% of high school students had ridden in the car when the driver was intoxicated.

Constructive Possession

In Texas, a minor may be charged with MIP if he/she is in a situation that might suggest that alcohol is being consumed, even if the minor is not actually in possession of alcohol. This is called “constructive possession.” For instance, constructive possession might include a situation in which a minor is found holding a can of beer for a friend. Additionally, a minor might receive a citation for clearing a table of beer cans after a party or sitting at a table where a pitcher of beer has been placed. If you or your child has been arrested for MIP because of constructive possession, talk to a Plano criminal defense attorney immediately. With a top-notch lawyer on your side, you can rest assured that your MIP case is in capable hands. Contact us today or fill out an online case evaluation form to learn more.