You can hire an attorney to get your MIP charge reduced or dismissed so it won’t show up on your criminal record or driving record.
An Attorney Can Get Your MIP Charge Reduced To “Littering” Or Dismissed
An experienced criminal defense attorney can get your MIP charge 1) reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering,” or 2) dismissed completely.
Your attorney can give you an estimate of the most likely outcome of your case, depending on these factors:
- The Court – Which court is your case being prosecuted in? Where you got caught underage drinking makes a huge difference in the outcome of your MIP case because some courts are more strict than others.
- Your Attorney – Does your attorney have experience handling MIP cases and are they familiar with the court in which your case is being prosecuted?
- Your Criminal History – Do you have prior drug- or alcohol-related arrests, charges, or convictions on your criminal record?
- Your Age – When will you be 21 years old?
- Your behavior – Were you polite and respectful to the police officer?
The outcome of an MIP case can vary widely, depending on the factors listed above.
For example, if your MIP ticket is being prosecuted in a Municipal Court, your attorney may be able to get your MIP charge reduced to “Littering” after you pay a fine and court costs, with no court appearance required.
If your MIP ticket is being prosecuted in a Circuit Court, the best possible plea bargain deal may include probation, completion of an alcohol education class, community service, and/or payment of a donation to the local law enforcement restitution fund.
Why Did You Get an MIP Ticket If You Weren’t Drunk?
In Missouri, underage drinking is charged as a misdemeanor called “Minor in Possession of Alcohol” or “MIP.” Missouri’s Minor in Possession of Alcohol law is RSMO 311.325.
Police officers can issue a ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol if they catch you doing any of the following:
- Buying or attempting to buy liquor
- Possessing liquor
- Acting intoxicated
- Having a detectable blood alcohol content of more than .02% (two-hundredths of one percent) or more
You don’t have to be drunk to get an MIP ticket, and police officers don’t have to breathalyze you before giving you an MIP ticket.
Most Common Places Minors Get Caught Under Age Drinking
Some common places where police officers issue tickets for Minor In Possession of Alcohol:
- Mardi Gras (at the parade, in bars, etc.)
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade
- House Party
- Parking Lot at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater before a concert
- In a park late at night
A police officer sees you take a sip of a drink belonging to your friend (who is 21) in a bar or at an outdoor concert or sporting event, so they give you a ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
You are a passenger in a vehicle that gets pulled over for a traffic violation and the cop sees beer cans in the car, so everyone in the car who is under age 21 will get a ticket for Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
What Is Minor In Possession Of Alcohol By Consumption?
In addition to the standard Minor in Possession of Alcohol ticket, you can also be charged with “Minor in Possession of Alcohol by Consumption.”
The “consumption” means you don’t have any containers of alcohol in your possession, but you appear to be intoxicated.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol By Consumption is considered the same as a regular MIP ticket.
Just like a regular MIP ticket, you can get an “MIP By Consumption” ticket even if you are not drunk, and the police officer is not required to breathalyze you.
Penalties For Minor In Possession Of Alcohol In Missouri
If this is the first time you have been charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol, the maximum punishment is:
- $300 fine
- No Possibility of Jail Time
If you have been charged with MIP before, the maximum punishment is:
- 1 year in jail and
- $1,000 fine
Jail time is highly unlikely for a first-time offender, or for a repeat offender who hires an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent them.
Even if all you have to do is pay a fine, you will still have an alcohol-related conviction on your criminal record if you plead guilty to Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Having an MIP conviction can make it very difficult to get a job or internship, or be accepted into college.
You Can Lose Your Driver’s License If You Plead Guilty To Minor In Possession of Alcohol
Your driver’s license can be suspended for 90 days if you plead guilty or are convicted of Minor in Possession of Alcohol under Missouri’s “Abuse & Lose” law. If you plead guilty or are convicted of MIP for a 2nd time, the state can revoke your driver’s license for 1 year.
An MIP Conviction Stays On Your Record Forever
Many people incorrectly believe that an MIP conviction will eventually “drop off” of your record after a certain period of time has passed, or after you turn 21. This is not true.
- An MIP conviction stays on your criminal record forever unless you file a petition for expungement in court
- An MIP conviction stays on your driving record forever unless you request that it be removed
How To Get An MIP Conviction Expunged From Your Criminal Record
If you pleaded guilty to Minor in Possession of Alcohol but have had a clean record since then, you can file a petition in court to get a first-time MIP conviction expunged (removed) from your criminal record.
The petition for expungement must be filed in the court where you were sentenced, and there will be a hearing before a judge, who will decide whether to allow your MIP conviction to be expunged.
How To Get An MIP Conviction Expunged From Your Driving Record
To remove an old MIP conviction from your driving record, you must send a written request to the Missouri Department of Revenue.
You are eligible to have your MIP conviction removed from your driving record after you reach age 21 and at least 5 years have passed since your driver’s license was reinstated.
For more information about expungement of an MIP conviction, read my previous blog post “MIP Expungement – Remove The Record Of Your Minor In Possession of Alcohol Ticket.”
If you need help getting your MIP charge reduced or dismissed, call St. Louis MIP lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at aroge[email protected] for a free consultation about your case.