Minor In Possession – What To Do If You Get A Ticket For Underage Drinking

MIP Ticket

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].

What To Do About a Minor in Possession of Alcohol Ticket in Missouri

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 [email protected].