by Attorney Raymond Cassar
Spring is in the air and many High School students are excited about Prom and graduation parties. For seniors, this is the end of High School and the beginning of the rest of their lives.
For many young adults celebrating with friends includes alcohol. Forty-five percent of twelfth graders report using alcohol. But most High School students really do not know what is at stake if they get arrested for a “Minor in Possession” (of alcohol), commonly referred to as an “MIP.”
The first thing teens need to know is that police officers are in full force on Prom night. They get lists from every school in the jurisdiction so that they do not miss this important event. They are on the lookout and they mean business.
The Police also love to attend Graduation parties. They rarely get an invitation, but you can bet they know where the parties are. They also count on neighbors who call in and eagerly point them in the right direction. The police get a real bang for the buck when they bust a party. They can write 20 or more tickets for under age drinking in a very short time, which is a whole lot simpler than hoping to run into some wayward kid who may have had consumed alcohol and now can't find his way home.
Michigan Compiled Laws 436.1703 makes it a criminal misdemeanor for a “minor" (which is basically every High school student) to purchase, consume or even ATTEMPT to possess alcohol. The phrase "attempt to possess alcohol" is the key here. This means the law also applies to all of the students that may not have had any alcohol at the party, but are standing right next to the keg, or holding a bottle of beer for their friend. The problem is that unless you are in another room playing a video game, if the police come in (and they always do) you stand a good chance of getting an MIP charge. Rarely does only one officer come to the house, so trying to run away only makes things worse. It is common for several police cars to be on the scene and that makes it a night to remember.
Contrary to what some teens think, getting an MIP is not something to brag about. Getting arrested is not fun. The jail cell you will be held in is very similar to an overcrowded public bathroom at a beach or concert. Calling your parents from the jail (if the phone works) will provide you with a memory that literally lasts a lifetime for both you and your parents.
Going to court is no picnic either. Telling the Judge that you are going off to college in the fall rarely impresses the Judge. While the fine on a first offense is only $100 the court also imposes work detail on weekends and community service and you have to pay to do the work program. After all someone has to pay the retired police officers that supervise you while you are picking up trash from the side of the road.
The court also places everyone on probation for 9 months to a year and again charges you $30 to $45 dollars a month for that privilege. Suffice to say that the court experience is not enjoyable. Keep in mind that cleaning up the sides of the road while wearing a bright orange vest is demeaning, especially when someone you know drives by and beeps their horn to acknowledge you.
Additionally the Court may revoke your driving privileges, and may order alcohol counseling and ongoing alcohol testing – which you also have to pay for.
You need to also remember that in Michigan an MIP is a misdemeanor which means it is a crime that results in you having a criminal record. Colleges are not impressed with anything on your criminal record. Future employers also are not amused when they run a record check and see a drinking violation. Lying on a job application and hoping they will not find your misdemeanor makes working anywhere ten times harder since each day you worry about it popping up and losing the job.
Graduation parties and the memories of friends you have made in High School should last a lifetime. Do not let an under age drinking event (and a criminal record) be part of those lasting memories.
The best way to avoid being arrested on an MIP is to steer clear of situations involving alcohol. But mistakes happen and teens can “be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” If you or someone you love has been charged with an MIP there are many things an experienced MIP lawyer can do to minimize the costs - and to keep you from ending up with a criminal record. We have represented hundreds of teens who have been arrested for MIP.
Call the Law Offices of Raymond A. Cassar, if you need help with an MIP in Michigan:
248-855-0911 & 313-278-8811.
Or visit our M I P website for more information: