You can avoid getting a conviction for Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) on your criminal record and driving record if you hire an experienced lawyer to fight your MIP ticket for you.
What Does Minor In Possession Mean?
In Missouri, it is illegal for anyone under age 21 to drink alcohol. If you get caught drinking underage, police could give you a ticket for “Minor in Possession of Alcohol,” “MIP,” or “Underage Drinking.”
Click here to read the law in Missouri for Minor in Possession of Alcohol, which is RSMO 311.325.
Even if you don’t get caught actually drinking alcohol, you can receive a ticket for Minor In Possession Of Alcohol in Missouri if you:
- Buy (or try to) buy liquor
- Possess liquor
- Are “visibly intoxicated”
- Have a blood alcohol content of more than .02%
FYI – The police are not required to breathalyze you before issuing an MIP ticket, and you don’t have to be drunk to get an MIP ticket.
What Is “Minor In Possession By Consumption”?
Police can give you an MIP ticket even if there is no open container in your possession and the officer did not actually see you take a drink of alcohol.
If a police officer sees someone under age 21 acting “visibly intoxicated” at a house party or outdoor concert but that person is not actually holding a beer can or a red Solo cup, the officer can still issue an MIP ticket. The reason for this is that the person is considered legally in possession of alcohol because they physically consumed alcohol.
The punishment for Minor In Possession Of Alcohol By Consumption is the same as for Minor In Possession Of Alcohol.
You can read more about Minor In Possession Of Alcohol By Consumption in my blog post titled “Get Your MIP Charge Reduced And Keep It Off Your Record.”
Punishment For Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking in Missouri
If you are a first-time offender and you plead guilty to Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Underage Drinking in Missouri, the maximum punishment is:
- $300 Fine
- No Jail Time
If you have been charged with MIP before, the maximum punishment is:
- $1,000 Fine and
- 1 year in jail
Jail time is not likely for a repeat offender if they have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing them, but you may be placed on probation, be required to perform a few hours of community service, attend an alcohol education class, and/or pay a donation to the local school fund.
What Is The “Abuse & Lose” Law In Missouri?
Anyone under age 21 can be charged under the “Abuse & Lose” law in Missouri, which means:
- Your driver’s license can be suspended for 90 days (if it’s a 1st offense) for any offense involving the possession or use of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle
- Your driver’s license can be revoked for 1 year (for a 2nd offense) for any offense involving the possession or use of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle
If you are under age 18 and it’s your 2nd time being charged with an offense involving the possession or use of alcohol (NOT while operating a motor vehicle), the same punishment applies as listed above, which means your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked.
What Happens If You Plead Guilty To Minor In Possession Of Alcohol In Missouri
If you plead guilty to a first-time offense of Minor In Possession Of Alcohol, the judge may sentence you to pay a fine without requiring community service, probation, or completion of an alcohol education class.
However, pleading guilty to MIP will cause a conviction for MIP to show up on your permanent criminal record.
Having an alcohol-related conviction such as MIP on your criminal record may prevent you from obtaining a job or internship, renting an apartment, or getting accepted into college.
Minor In Possession Of Alcohol Convictions Stay On Your Record Forever
Unfortunately, a conviction for Minor In Possession Of Alcohol or Underage Drinking will not get “sealed” or “drop off” of your record after a few years.
If you plead guilty to Minor In Possession Of Alcohol, that conviction stays on your CRIMINAL RECORD forever unless you hire an attorney to get it expunged
In addition, a conviction for Minor In Possession Of Alcohol stays on your DRIVING RECORD forever unless you ask the Missouri Department of Revenue to remove it.
An MIP conviction is not eligible for removal from your driving record until you reach age 21 and 5 years have passed since your driver’s license was reinstated.
Click here for more information about removal of your MIP conviction from your driving record, or consult the Missouri Department of Revenue website.
You Can Get An MIP Conviction Expunged From Your Criminal Record
Expungement of an MIP conviction is possible if it was your first offense and you have had a clean record since the original conviction date.
You are allowed to expunge only one MIP conviction in your lifetime, and only if it it your first offense.
I discuss MIP expungement in more depth in my previous blog post “MIP Expungement – Remove The Record Of Your Minor In Possession Of Alcohol Ticket.”
Hire A Lawyer To Get Your MIP Ticket Dismissed Or Reduced To A Less Serious Offense
It is very likely that you will NOT have to appear in court if you have an experienced lawyer representing you for your MIP ticket. Your lawyer will negotiate a plea bargain deal to get your MIP ticket either:
- Reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering,” or
- Dismissed completely
The outcome of your case depends on:
- Your age
- Your behavior toward the police officer
- Your criminal history
- Which court your case is being prosecuted in
In more serious cases in which 1) the defendant has prior convictions or 2) defendant’s case is being prosecuted in state court, the defendant may be required to do one or all of the following:
- Be placed on probation
- Attend an alcohol education class
- Do a few hours of community service
- Pay a “donation” to the local school fund
- Have your driver’s license suspended or revoked (if charged under “Abuse & Lose” law)
If you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney, they can give you a flat-fee price quote for how much they will charge to represent you, including an estimate of the outcome of your case and an estimate of the amount of any fines and court costs you may have to pay.
For a free consultation about your Minor in Possession of Alcohol ticket, call criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected].