In Texas, Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, also referred to as an MIP, is a Class C Misdemeanor. It carries with it a possible fine of $250 to $2000. Community service requirements and alcohol awareness classes are also usually part of the punishment.
Generally, a person charged with this offense will be issued a ticket or citation by either a police officer or by a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) officer.
The offense requires that an individual was illegally in possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage. Individuals under the age of 21 will often find that it is very easy to be charged with this crime. The citation is usually issued at parties and gatherings, bars and nightclubs, or when a person under the age of 21 is in a vehicle where alcohol is present.
Note that it is not illegal to be around alcohol which belongs to another person, but the underage person should be very careful. He or she must not hold any alcohol, purchase it, consume it, transport it, or have any contact with it. This is why this charge becomes so easy to receive. Anytime an underage person holds his buddy’s beer, gets someone a drink, or is even at a table where multiple cups are around, he or she runs the risk of receiving an MIP.
In addition, “constructive possession” may also be construed in certain circumstances. This is where an individual does not have actual possession but does have the ability to control the object. A common example of this situation is when several friends are gathered at a table along with a pitcher of beer and several cups. Although rare, this may cause a person not actually in possession of the alcohol to receive an MIP.
A citation for Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, commonly referred to as an MIC, may be issued to any minor who consumes an alcoholic beverage. If an officer has a reasonable belief that the minor has consumed alcohol (ie: admittance by the minor, odor of alcohol coming from the person, signs of intoxication) he may issue this ticket. It is not required that the officer actually catch the minor in the act of consuming the alcohol. Note that a minor is allowed to consume alcohol if he/she is in the visible presence of the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse. An MIC is also a Class C Misdemeanor, and carries with it a possible fine of $250 to $2000, and/or up to 180 days in jail. Community service requirements and alcohol awareness classes are also generally part of the punishment. In addition, the individual’s drivers license may be suspended for up to 180 days.
What to do if you receive an MIP or MIC
Although these offenses are only Class C misdemeanors, they still carry very serious consequences, and it is important that a person takes these charges seriously. Like many other alcohol and drug related offenses, having a conviction for one of these offenses on your record can be devastating. Finding a good job or getting into a good school can become nearly impossible.
If you have been charged with one of these offenses, contact our office immediately. Beware of anyone who tells you that “Oh, its just a Class C, it doesn’t matter”. This is not true. It matters because of the nature of the offense. It is important to find an attorney who will protect not only your interests regarding the particular offense, but the potentially life-changing effects that these charges can bring about.
We offer a free consultation and thorough review of your case. Our attorneys have years of experience in dealing with these charges, and we understand the seriousness of the matter. If action is taken promptly, it is likely we can work with the prosecution to have the offense kept off of your permanent record. Call us today.