Minor in Possession Laws FAQ
An MIP, minor in possession, is a charge where an underage person is caught with alcohol or drugs. All states punish these offenses, but somewhat differently. For one, you don't have to be driving to get a MIP. Say for example you are seen walking on the street with an open beer; in this case, you can and will be charged with an MIP violation.
What is a MIP?
Minor in possessions does not mean, as noted, you have to be driving. It's very common for you to be arrested while driving for being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is the most common offense which minors are charged with while driving, but drugs are definitely a problem too. The fact that drugs alter your ability to drive in a potentially different way means nothing you can still be charged.
If you are too young to be drinking, if you have alcohol in your possession, if you attempted to buy alcohol, or if you drank alcohol most state laws allow for punishment.
What Punishments Do You Face?
Punishments vary from state to state when it comes to MIP laws. However, if you have a drivers license, most states will suspend it for one year. If you have no license yet, usually you will not be able to get a license for some time, likely 6 months to a year, after the charge. Some states prosecute MIP cases to the full extent, while others treat it less seriously and only put the minor on probation. The laws vary, but all states have laws in place because the problem is so common.
Why are you charged?
You may wonder why you were charged if you had not been drinking in the car, if your driving hadn't been altered, or if you had an open beer in the car but had not drank it. Minors drinking in the first place is illegal. The laws state you are not supposed to drank, even though many abuse the laws. The problem is that drinking and driving is so dangerous, with so many deaths occurring every year. And since a great majority of drunk drivers are younger, 30 or below, it's important for some penalties to be used.
How can you avoid the charges?
You can avoid the problems by simply not drinking at all. If you do drink, never drive. If you use drugs, you can still be charged, and even further if you are taking an illegal drug. The best way is to just never drive after drinking, never drink while you drive, and to never walk with open alcohol on you.
Who can help?
If you or a loved one has been charged with an MIP, state laws differ in terms of penalties, so be sure to hire an experienced DUI lawyer. In some states, it may just be probation. In others, the penalties may be extended license suspension and potentially more. A DUI lawyer is a must. Just being charged with a DUI does not mean you are guilty; a strong DUI defense can limit charges if not eliminate them.