A Minor in Possession charge, also known as a MIP, is often associated with college students or teenagers. A MIP is a criminal misdemeanor charge issued when one under twenty-one buys, possesses, or consumes alcohol. If an officer has probable cause, then a minor may be issued an alcohol screening test to determine if the minor is under the influence. A MIP may be issued if one is found in actual possession or constructive possession of alcohol. Actual possession means one is physically in control over the alcohol, and constructive possession means that one could become in actual possession relatively easily. 

While the legal drinking age is twenty-one, there are several circumstances where a minor may be protected from receiving a MIP. Individuals between the ages of eighteen to twenty are permitted to serve alcohol as part of their employment. However, individuals under the age of twenty-one are not permitted to work as a bartender or mix alcoholic beverages. Eighteen to twenty-year-old culinary students may taste alcohol for instructional purposes. Culinary students are only permitted to taste alcohol as part of their licensed and accredited culinary program with the supervision of an instructor over the legal age. Law enforcement agencies may use individuals under twenty-one to check whether an establishment is serving or selling alcohol to minors. Lastly, religious ceremonies often permit minors to consume alcohol. Alcohol use in religious ceremonies requires the purchaser to be over twenty-one. Yes, this means you will not go to jail for drinking wine at church or serving a customer a beer at the restaurant where you work; nonetheless, you may not purchase or consume alcohol for any other reason outside of these exceptions. 

In the case you have received an MIP, there are several consequences you may face. College students are often the largest target of MIPs; therefore, college students are often subjected to punishment by their universities for MIP charges. Additionally, if you have received an MIP and applied to graduate or professional school, you will likely have to disclose this information. For example, law school applications require all criminal actions to be reported. Further, MIPs are often issued alongside misrepresentation of age charges. Misrepresentation of age charges can vary by a $100-200 fine, or up to thirty days in jail. A judge may suspend one’s driver’s license for 120 days, or mandate one to attend an alcohol prevention or intervention program. The issuance of several MIPs may result in more severe consequences. 

MIPs may only be misdemeanor charges, but there are still many instances when retaining an attorney is the best option. Attorneys may be able to help one obtain a plea deal. A plea deal may help lessen the consequences of one’s actions. If you or your child have received multiple MIPs, an attorney may be able to help navigate the impact this may have on one’s legal record. The court system offers a variety of opportunities to have a MIP sealed or expunged from one’s record; however, an attorney is generally needed for these opportunities to be presented.

At King Law, we understand the challenges involved in any criminal law matter. Our goal is to help guide you through this process and listen to your concerns. Call 888-748-KING (5464) or fill out our form to schedule a consultation at one of our multiple office locations throughout North and South Carolina.

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