We all know you can get in trouble for having an open container of alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing some controlled substance. However, there are specific laws that govern minors when it comes to alcohol and drugs. They're called minor in possession laws (MIP) and they make it crime just for a minor to have alcohol in their possession, regardless of where they got it or if they were even drinking it.
In order to be convicted of a MIP, they only have to prove:
- You were under the legal drinking age.
- You possessed alcohol; or
- You tried to buy alcohol; or
- You drank any amount of alcohol.
The penalties can range from fines and educational programs to juvenile lockup and probation. So how can you defend yourself against these kinds of charges? There are a few ways:
- The container had no alcohol in it. This can be tough to prove, especially because it's up to the defendant to show that there was no alcohol.
- You consumed it as past of a religious service such as communion.
- You consumed alcohol legally. For instance, Wisconsin and Canada allow 19- and 20-year-olds to drink legally. You can make the claim you drank legally there and then crossed the border.
If a son or daughter is facing a MIP charge, it's important to act as soon as possible. An attorney may be able to examine the case and offer a defense that could see the charges reduced or dropped altogether.