Minor in possession (MIP) is a violation that occurs when a person is found in possession of alcohol before they are of legal age to drink. MIP can also refer to a minor in possession of drugs or other illegal substances, but it typically refers to possession of alcohol. In all states, the minimum drinking age is 21 years old. Thus, a person under 21 years old may face minor in possession charges if they are in possession of alcohol.
However, there are many exceptions to minimum drinking age laws. These will depend on many factors which are different from state to state. Also, MIP charges may interact in different ways with underage drinking laws, as the person often does not need to actually be drunk in order to be charged with MIP.
There are several different possible defenses to minor in possession charges. These include:
- Not actually an alcoholic beverage or illegal substance: Errors can often occur when police are attempting to identify a drink or a substance.
- Exceptions to minimum drinking age laws: As mentioned, some states have exceptions to minimum drinking age requirements. For instance, underage drinking and, therefore, possession of alcohol may be allowed in some states under the following conditions: with parental consent; in a private, non-alcohol serving premises; for medical purposes; for educational purposes; for religious ceremonies; for government work/study purposes; and in some alcohol-selling establishments.
- Coercion/force: It may be a defense if the person was coerced to drink alcohol under the threat of harm or injury.
- Involuntary intoxication: It can be a defense if the person’s mental capacity was affected due to involuntary intoxication. For instance, if they were drugged without their knowledge.
Thus, there can be many defenses to MIP charges. Again, these will vary based on several different aspects and factors.
MIP often results in either a citation or simple misdemeanor charges. This frequently leads to criminal fines and/or some short jail time. In other instances, more serious criminal consequences may result, especially for repeat convictions or for instances where there is serious property damage or serious physical injury involved.
Minor in possession charges can often lead to some serious consequences. You may need to hire a qualified criminal lawyer if you or a loved one needs help defending against MIP charges. An attorney can provide you with legal advice and can tell you what types of legal options are available for you. Also, your lawyer can be on hand guide you during the court proceedings and hearings.