For college students in Michigan who are found in possession of alcohol, the consequences are serious. Indeed, for a minor-in-possession (MIP) charge, college students from the Grand Rapids area can face a misdemeanor conviction, which can have severe consequences for the student, including a fine of up to $100 and up to 90 days in jail. Being convicted of a misdemeanor can also impact a college student’s ability to secure certain types of employment or credit, for example, in the future.
However, the Michigan legislature has recently changed its laws on MIP. Now, instead of being charged with a misdemeanor, college students will only face a civil infraction. Yet the law will not take effect until January 1, 2018. In the meantime, what should college students and their families know about the changes to Michigan’s MIP laws?
Under the amended Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) Section 436.1703, a minor who purchases, possesses, or consumes alcohol (or attempts to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol) is responsible for a state civil infraction for the first offense, and can be fined up to $100. This is a significant change in the law, as we mentioned, which currently says that even a first offense is a misdemeanor and comes with the consequences of a misdemeanor offense we cited above.
In addition to the fact that a MIP charge will be only a state civil infraction as of January 1, 2018, the amended law also makes clear that, for first-time offenders, the court can also defer and dismiss the charge if the minor pleads guilty to the offense and successfully completes a probationary term outlined by the court. Such a probationary period may include a requirement that the minor undergo substance abuse screening and assessment, and that the minor complete community service.
However, once a minor violates the law a second time, the charge becomes a misdemeanor offense that can be punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 30 days.
When the amended law takes effect in January 2018, a college student who is charged with a violation after one prior judgment (a second-time offender) still can be eligible for a dismissal. This is extremely important since a criminal record can have serious implications in a college student’s future. While you might not think about the consequences of drinking alcohol while you are a 19-year-old or 20-year-old student, you do not want to have a MIP misdemeanor conviction on your record.
That brings us to a vital point for current Michigan college students: the amended law does not take effect until January 1, 2018, as we have noted. As such, if you are an underage college student who violates the law by purchasing, possessing, or consuming alcohol—even if it is your first offense—you can be charged with a misdemeanor and can face a short term of imprisonment. The law does not change until the amendment takes effect in January of this coming year.
If your college student is facing MIP charges, it is extremely important to work with an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer. Even a misdemeanor conviction can have implications for your child’s future. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we have been serving Michigan residents for more than two decades. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.
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