As children get older and start to become young adults, they begin thinking about all of the things in which they will soon be able to partake. Drinking an adult beverage can be an enticing activity to minors, especially since they are not legally able to do so until 21 years of age. When a minor finds a way to obtain alcohol, has it in their possession, or is found to be visibly intoxicated, these can all be considered minor in possession (MIP) charges in the state of Missouri, and minors can be criminally charged for these misdemeanors.
The MIP lawyers at Deputy & Mizell, L.L.C., have years of experience representing clients dealing with MIP charges. As skilled criminal defense attorneys, we are committed to advocating for our clients and protecting their rights. Criminal charges and especially a criminal conviction can have serious, life-altering repercussions for minors who have yet to be able to fulfill their life’s potential. One lapse in judgment can have permanent negative effects that can alter a minor’s life. It is important that minors charged with MIP have exceptional legal representation to work for their best interests. Let our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Deputy & Mizell, L.L.C. help — contact us today!
What is MIP?
When a minor (anyone under the age of the legal drinking limit of 21 years) has physical alcohol on their person or appears to be intoxicated, they can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. Minor in possession, abbreviated as “MIP,” can be charged for a variety of different acts in the state of Missouri. These include:
- Being in possession or constructive possession (i.e. in your car) of an alcoholic beverage
- Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol
- Appearing visibly intoxicated/possession by consumption
Even if a minor does not have any physical alcohol in their possession, a blood alcohol level (BAC) of more than two-hundredths of one percent (what could be one small sip of an alcoholic drink) can lead to an arrest and charges of MIP.
Missouri MIP Laws
Missouri’s MIP laws are unique because of the burden of proof required for the state when prosecuting a minor in possession. When an unopened container has a manufacturer’s seal and labeling which indicates that the container holds an alcoholic substance, it is assumed to be true that the liquid inside contains alcohol. When a minor is in possession of a container with this labeling and seal but is not open, they can still be charged with MIP. If the minor alleges that there is no alcohol in the container despite the labeling, it is their burden to prove that claim.
Minors can be subjected to two chemical tests—blood, breath, or urine—if they are engaging in behavior that violates the MIP laws. The tests will be conducted according to methods authorized by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the minor can opt to also have an additional chemical test done by his or her own qualified individual under the supervision of a law enforcement officer.
Missouri state law also has an exception to the law concerning minors possessing or consuming alcohol in the circumstances of a culinary course. If the minor is 18 years old or older, is enrolled in an accredited college or university culinary course as a student, is required to taste (not consume) beer or wine as part of the course, and is under the supervision of an authorized instructor over the age of 21, that minor may receive an alcohol beverage if it is a requirement of the course. The instructor must remain in possession and control of the required alcoholic beverage at all times.
Punishment for Underage Drinking
Missouri courts of law take MIP charges very seriously, and the punishments for a MIP conviction are also quite severe. Under Missouri law, minors (16-20 years old) who plead guilty to or are convicted of MIP will face the following penalties:
- 1st Offense – Classified as a Class D Misdemeanor. Driver’s license suspended for 30 days and offense carries up to $300 in fines.
- 2nd Offense – Classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. Driver’s license suspended for 90 days and offense carries up to one year in jail and $1000 in fines.
- 3rd or Any Subsequent Offense – Classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. Driver’s license revoked for one year and offense carries up to one year in jail and $2000 in fines.
A MIP conviction has the potential to stay on your permanent record for life, so it is critical that you have exceptional legal representation if you or your child has been charged with possession of alcohol. Minors are required to retest for their driver’s licenses upon reinstatement if their driving privilege was revoked. They are not required to retest upon reinstatement if their driving privilege was suspended unless their driver’s licenses expired during the suspension period and have been expired for more than six months (184 days).
How Our MIP Lawyers Can Help
If you or your child has been charged with a MIP misdemeanor, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Missouri to handle the case. At Deputy & Mizell, L.L.C., our skilled attorneys have the experience and knowledge to protect your rights and work to preserve your good name. We understand how severely a MIP conviction can affect your life, and we want to give you every possible chance at success.
We can determine:
- If your acts, in fact, violated the law or ordinance in your Jurisdiction
- If an unreasonable search and seizure was conducted
- If your driver’s license is at risk, and what can be done to protect it
- If you are entitled to an affirmative defense excusing you from liability
- If despite guilt you are entitled to probation in lieu of conviction and thereby clean criminal record
We will work tirelessly to gather evidence, contact witnesses, negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, and do everything we possibly can under Missouri state law to have your charges reduced or dropped, limit the penalties you may face, get the conviction expunged from your permanent record, and anything else that may lead to the best possible outcome.
MIP Lawyer in Missouri
A MIP charge and conviction can have serious repercussions on a minor’s future. Colleges, employers, and other future opportunities may become more limited with a criminal conviction on their record. Don’t allow a mistake in judgment prevent you from attaining your future goals and living the life you dream of as an adult. Let our Missouri criminal defense firm help.
At Deputy & Mizell, L.L.C., we have experience on both sides of criminal law, and that gives us an advantage when it comes to planning your defense. Our knowledgeable attorneys serve clients in the Lake of the Ozarks region and beyond. You can reach our MIP lawyers by phone at 417-532-2191 or toll-free at 1-877-532-2191. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.CONTACT US | SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION