Underage drinking is nothing new. But if you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime. If you do the crime anyway, heed the following tips. After all, in all 50 states, it is illegal to drink if you are under 21, absent a few exceptions.
The first thing that any MIP lawyer would tell you is that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you might receive an MIP, or minor in possession, is to exercise your constitutional rights.
That means saying that you wish to remain silent and that you want an attorney. Suspects constantly babble on to police officers, often providing exactly the evidence the prosecution needs to convict. For example, people will often say, "Wait, that's not fair, I was only holding it for my friend and I had like one sip." Avoid the situation in the first place, but if you do find yourself with the police shining a flashlight in your eyes and asking questions, be smarter than that.
Often times, those charged with MIP will be able to have their MIP lawyer enter them into a diversion program where the incident will be removed from their record if they stay out of trouble, pay a fine, take an alcohol class, do community service, or some combination. Some states, including California will suspend your driver's license for a year, even if the MIP did not involve a vehicle.
Every state is different, but in general a conviction of MIP requires proof that you:
- are younger than the legal drinking age at time of the citation; and
- had alcohol in your possession; or
- attempted to buy alcohol; or
- drank alcohol
So be wise, skip underage drinking and wait until your 21. But since a lot of you are going to ignore that advise, at least take comfort in having a bit of knowledge of the law and how to protect your rights. If you get arrested for an MIP, just remember three things: remain silent, ask for an attorney, and hire a criminal defense lawyer.