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Minor In Possession Charges

Police officer writing a ticket for a minor

A minor in possession (MIP) charge can derail a teenager’s otherwise promising future. In addition to a suspended or revoked driver’s license, a MIP charge may affect whether a teen can receive college financial aid or pursue specific careers. MIP charges may be given to teens using alcohol, as well as to legal adults who are under the age of 21.

Minor In Possession Charge Definition

Although the precise definition may vary by state, MIP charges apply when a person under the age of 21 is found to be in possession or under the influence of alcohol. Underage drinking charges and DUI charges are both considered MIPs for people between the ages of 18 and 21, even though people over 18 are legally considered to be adults.

Minors who are charged with MIP are likely to receive a suspended driver’s license, regardless of whether they were driving. In addition, acceptable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are much lower for minors than for adults. Minors with a BAC greater than 0.00 are at risk for a DUI charge.

People who are found to be providing alcohol to minors are also at risk for MIP-related charges.

Consequences Of MIP Charges

The consequences of a MIP charge will vary depending on which state the charge occurred in. Under most circumstances, an MIP will involve a misdemeanor criminal offense, a suspended driver’s license, and fines. In addition, the person may be required to consult with an addiction specialist, attend an educational class or enroll in an alcohol dependency treatment program. Importantly, a MIP conviction may affect college federal financial aid eligibility.

In some states, minors who agree to complete a rehab program or an educational program on the dangers of drinking may have MIP charges removed from their record.

Fighting MIP Charges

In most cases, a minor charged with MIP has limited options for fighting the charge. However, minors may find a sympathetic judge who may reduce or dismiss the charges, especially when the minor appears well-dressed in court, has a respectful demeanor and has no prior offenses. In states where the defendant meets with a prosecutor before court, a pre-trial agreement may specify that charges will be deferred after stipulations are met, such as the completion of community service.

The best way to fight a MIP charge is to hire the best DUI lawyer you can afford. These lawyers are able to negotiate with prosecutors and judges, and they offer the best chance of getting a MIP charge reduced, deferred or dismissed.

MIP State Laws

There are federal restrictions on the consumption of alcohol by people under the age of 21. However, states have some flexibility in how they administer underage drinking laws and how they punish violators.

Colorado

Colorado MIP laws restrict people under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol, with an exception for minors who are on private property and under parental supervision. However, a minor who drinks alcohol on private property with their parents and then leaves the property loses any protection that was provided. In addition, the supervising adults may be held accountable for any damage that the minor inflicted while under the influence.

Colorado youths who are charged with MIP risk losing their driver’s license for up to 90 days, regardless of whether they were operating a motor vehicle. Community service may be offered as an alternative to a suspended license for first-time offenders.

Drivers under the age of 21 are considered to be driving under the influence if they have a BAC of more than 0.02, and they may face charges in addition to MIP.

Florida

Unlike Colorado, Florida makes no exceptions for alcohol possession by a minor. Furnishing alcohol to minors is also explicitly prohibited with no exceptions.

Minors under the age of 18 face strict “use/lose” driving privileges. An MIP charge is associated with a mandatory 180-day suspension of their driver’s license with a maximum of 365 days suspended, regardless of whether they were driving when arrested.

Under Florida MIP laws, minors who are driving and have a BAC of over 0.02 are considered to be driving under the influence, and their license may be suspended or revoked.

Ohio

Ohio drinking laws restrict underage people from possessing or consuming alcohol unless they are in the presence of a parent, guardian or spouse. Furnishing alcohol to minors is illegal except in the case of a parent, guardian or spouse. Ohio also provides some exceptions for adults who host underage drinking parties.

Ohio does not have specific laws related to MIP charges and driver’s licenses. If an underage person is pulled over and has a BAC of over 0.02, however, they are considered to be driving under the influence and may have their license revoked or suspended.

Oregon

Oregon MIP laws stipulate that people under the age of 21 may possess and consume alcohol in a private residence and under the supervision of a parent or guardian. Furnishing alcohol to minors is illegal except when a parent or guardian provides the alcohol on private property. The furnisher may be held liable if a minor under the influence leaves the property and is arrested.

Underage possession or consumption of alcohol can lead to a suspended, revoked or denied driver’s license. The length of the suspension lasts for 365 days or until the individual reaches 17 years of age — whichever is longer. This suspension is applicable whether or not the minor was driving at the time of the arrest.

A minor who is pulled over and has a BAC of over 0.00 is considered to be driving under the influence, making them eligible for a suspended or revoked license. This is in contrast to many other states, which specify that 0.02 is conclusive evidence of a violation.

Washington

Washington MIP laws prohibit alcohol consumption by minors unless they are in the presence of a parent or guardian. Parents and guardians are allowed to provide alcohol to their children.

Like Oregon, Washington dictates that minors who are charged with MIP face a mandatory driver’s license suspension time of 365 days or until the individual reaches 17 years of age — whichever is longer. This occurs regardless of whether the minor was driving.

Minors who are pulled over and have a BAC of more than 0.02 are considered to be driving under the influence and may face additional charges.

Alcohol use disorders can be challenging to overcome without help. If you are concerned that your teen is struggling with alcohol, professional help is just a phone call away. Next Generation Village is a teen-specific rehab facility that provides comprehensive, evidence-based treatment programs. Contact us today to learn how we can help your teen get back on track. 

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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