April 18, 2015

Fighting a Minor In Possession Charge

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nobeersaleProm and graduation season is fast approaching, and these events typically involve alcohol consumption. Way back in the dark ages when I graduated high school, the drinking age was 18, "legally drunk" was 0.15% (it's now 0.02% for those under 21 and 0.08% for those over 21), and getting caught drinking meant the police stood next to you while you told your parents what you'd been doing. Times have certainly changed, and there are now serious consequences to underage drinking. As long as no driving is involved, a teen caught drinking faces a Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge (MIP). If driving is involved, that under-21 year old likely faces a DUI, too. While the best practice for minors is to avoid people and places where alcohol is served to anyone, life happens.

Our local courts see many MIP cases, and many are tough on MIPs, requiring those facing a first MIP charge to admit guilt and impose conditions such as probation, alcohol awareness classes, community service volunteer hours, and fines. The costs add up quickly. As a DUI defense lawyer, I'd rather help my clients avoid pleading guilty in the first place. Why? You want to avoid having any conviction on your record, ever.

Don't go to court and plead guilty thinking you'll just get the MIP charge "removed" from your record at a later date. Future employers doing background checks, as well as law enforcement and military recruiters, will see this "indiscretion."

When a teen is charged with MIP, it costs time and money to deal with the situation and minimize the impact of the arrest. I've helped many minors over the years and, having raised two, I know that kids make mistakes. My methods for teaching important life lessons are amply effective and much less damaging than letting the courts "help" someone ruin their future with a guilty plea.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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