An experienced attorney can get your ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
What is “Minor in Possession of Alcohol?”
In Missouri, a first-time charge of Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) is a class D misdemeanor. According to Missouri law RSMO 311.325, you can be charged with MIP if you are under age 21 and you do any of the following:
- Purchase or attempt to purchase intoxicating liquor
- Possess intoxicating liquor
- Appear to be visibly intoxicated
- Have a detectable blood alcohol content of more than two-hundredths of one percent or more by weight
If you get charged with MIP a second time, it’s considered a class A misdemeanor.
Why Didn’t the Police Officer Breathalyze You Before Giving You a Ticket For MIP?
Police officers do not have to administer a breathalyzer test before issuing a ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Police can issue tickets for MIP in any of the following situations:
- You are attempting to purchase alcohol while underage
- You are pulled over for a traffic violation and the police officer sees a beer can in your car
- A police officer sees you drinking at Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, etc.
- A police officer sees you drinking in the parking lot before a concert
- You are at a house party where underage drinking is occurring and police show up after neighbors call to complain about the noise
If the officer believes you appear to be visibly intoxicated, they can issue a ticket for MIP. In a situation such as a house party, the police officers will commonly issue tickets for MIP to everyone at the party if they believe underage drinking is occurring.
What’s the Maximum Punishment for Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Missouri?
If you have no prior convictions for Underage Drinking or Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Missouri, the maximum penalty is a fine of $300. If this is not your first ticket for underage drinking, the maximum punishment is 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
In addition to paying a fine, your driver’s license could be suspended if you were charged under Missouri’s “Abuse & Lose” law.
Even if you don’t care about paying a fine or having your license suspended, having an alcohol-related conviction such as MIP on your permanent criminal record may prevent you from getting a good job or being accepted into the college of your choice.
How to Fight a Ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking
An experienced attorney can help you fight a ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking. In most cases, your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain deal with the court to get your MIP ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.”
The outcome of your case depends a lot on which court your case is being prosecuted in. The prosecutors and judges in some counties in Missouri are very strict when dealing with defendants charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking, but may be quite lenient in other counties.
Other factors that make a difference in your case include:
- How old are you? (If you were 3 months from turning 21 when you got the MIP ticket, the Prosecutor may be more lenient than if you were 16.)
- Do you have any prior alcohol-related convictions on your criminal record?
- Were you polite and respectful to the police when they issued the MIP ticket?
Before dismissing or reducing your MIP ticket, the court may require you to do some or all of the following:
- Attend a brief alcohol-education class
- Perform a few hours of community service
- Pay a fine and court costs
- Make a donation to the local law enforcement restitution fund
How To Get An Old MIP Conviction Expunged
It is possible to get an old MIP conviction expunged (removed) from your criminal record if you pleaded guilty to Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) or Underage Drinking in the past. Contrary to popular belief, your MIP conviction does not automatically drop off your record or get sealed once you reach age 21.
After 1 year has passed since your conviction or you reach age 21 (whichever comes first), your attorney can file a petition for expungement of your MIP charge. There will be a hearing before a judge, and the judge will want to see proof that there are no other alcohol-related law enforcement contacts on your criminal record since the original MIP conviction date.
For more information about expungement of an MIP conviction, read my previous blog post “How To Get a First-Time MIP Conviction Expunged in Missouri.”
Call St. Louis MIP lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation about your ticket for under-age drinking or Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) in Missouri. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.