Minor in Possession
Some may consider a young college student’s first beer as a “right of passage”: a ritual meant to mark the young person’s transition from childhood to adulthood. However, if that young person is under the age of 21, that first drink – or even holding that drink – may be a criminal offense. Minor in possession laws in Michigan are meant to deter underage drinking on college campuses and at private parties. There can be a great deal of disparity in the prosecution of these charges: while some jurisdictions may be willing to enter into deferred prosecution agreements with those charged with minor in possession, other jurisdictions may vigorously prosecute and pursue convictions in such cases.
What Constitutes Minor in Possession
As defined by law, minor in possession in Michigan consists of a wide variety of activity. More specifically, a person can be found guilty of minor in possession if he or she is under the age of 21 years and either actually commits or attempts to commit any of the following behaviors:
- Purchase an alcoholic beverage (it does not matter if the person is purchasing the alcoholic beverage for the use of others who may be over the legal drinking age);
- Consume an alcoholic beverage (although there are a few exceptions, mainly for religious and/or certain educational purposes);
- Possess an alcoholic beverage (but a person under the legal drinking age may serve alcohol to others if the person is doing so as part of his or her employment as a server, waiter, or waitress).
If a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a minor is under the influence of alcohol, that officer can request the minor to submit to a preliminary breath test to determine if the minor has any alcohol in his or her system. Any amount of alcohol – even 0.01 grams per 210 liters of breath(BAC) – is sufficient to sustain a conviction for minor in possession.
Penalties Associated with Minor in Possession Convictions
A first conviction for minor in possession is punishable by a fine of $100. A second offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine; a third offense could result in a 60-day jail sentence, $500 in fines, and the revocation of the person’s driving privileges. Before the judge can impose a jail sentence for a second or third offense, the court must find that in committing the crime of minor in possession the minor was violating a previous court order or a condition of probation. Finally, if a minor is caught driving under the influence of alcohol, he our she may be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished with up to 360 hours of community service and $250 fine.
In defending yourself against minor in possession charges, be certain to have experienced legal counsel on your side to ensure the adverse consequences of a conviction or deferred prosecution are minimized and that you do not plead unnecessarily to a crime you may not have committed. Contact Van Den Heuvel Law Office: We have helped countless individuals charged with minor in possession avoid conviction and/or minimize the negative effects of a conviction. Call our office at (616) 698-0000 or contact us online.