MIP Lawyer West Michigan – Minor In Possession
Minor in Possession of Alcohol – West Michigan MIP Lawyer
UPDATE January 2017. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed Minor in Possession reform legislation to the new Michigan minor in possession MIP law that makes a first offense of Minor in Possession a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine (plus possible community service hours and substance abuse classes). What this means, is that a first MIP offender would not have to try to obtain the MIP First Offender Diversion Program to keep an MIP charge off of their criminal record. Instead, a first offense would be treated much like a speeding ticket (a civil infraction) and would no longer be a criminal misdemeanor. However, a second or subsequent offense would still be a misdemeanor. Over 9,300 minors were charged for MIP offenses in 2014. Unfortunately, the Minor in Possession new legislation does not go into effect until January 1, 2018.
You've been Charged with MIP – now what?
If you have been given an MIP ticket and told to show up in court on a certain date, try to talk with a lawyer before you go. Otherwise, go to court and plead NOT guilty. In a previous page, MIP Lawyer we discussed the Top Ten Awesome Reasons to Plead NOT Guilty. We will repeat them here because they were really good:
- A smart student pleads not guilty.
- Pleading "not guilty" doesn't mean you deny you did anything; it just means you are not in a position to admit it (yet).
- Usually by the time the police read your rights – it's too late.
- You will not be treated worse (or jailed) for pleading not guilty.
- Pleading not guilty gives your lawyer a chance to make sure the govt has a solid case.
- A lawyer can make sure the cops didn't violate your rights.
- Your lawyer can try to have the charge dismissed or reduced.
- Preserve your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The MIP First Offender – MIP Diversion Program.
There is a First Offender program, also called a Diversion Program, where you can be placed on probation for a period of months and if you successfully complete all the terms and pay all the fines and costs, the conviction is never entered with the State, meaning you will have no permanent criminal conviction. Probation is usually a year, fines and costs are about $600 ($500 more than "just taking it on the chin") and of course you will have random testing for drugs and alcohol.
There are several other ways of keeping an MIP from ever getting on your criminal record. Most of them will require that you hire a lawyer. Period. Invest the money – it's worth it. Your lawyer can try to get the charges reduced, sometimes completely dismissed, or help you qualify under one of the other first-time offender programs such as Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) or a delayed sentence agreement.
MIP Amnesty Program.
Concerned that teenagers were drinking to excess and not seeking medical help when needed, the Michigan Legislature amended the MIP Statute in 2012 to provide amnesty for underage drinkers and their companions. The goal of the Amnesty section is to encourage underage drinkers to call for help when one of their friends drinks too much, overdoses, or starts having medical trouble. To qualify for the Minor in Possession immunity or Amnesty from prosecution, the minor (less than age 21) must voluntarily present themselves to a hospital, med-center or health facility or contact a police officer or ambulance for the purpose of obtaining legitimate medical treatment.
The MIP amnesty also applies to minors who may have been drinking alcohol and call the ambulance or police officer for help or drive/accompany the minor who is in medical trouble to a health facility for treatment.
The statute requires that the hospital or police officer notify the parents or guardian of the minor and the nature of the treatment.
The requirements for such amnesty is that the minor be under age 21, must have consumed alcohol, and the minor voluntarily presents themselves to a hospital for legitimate medical treatment or voluntarily contacts a police officer or ambulance (i.e. calls 911).
We have had only a couple of Amnesty situations. We are not seeing these cases because prosecutors are not writing criminal charges. For example, in one case a drinking buddy called police because their friend (also a minor under age 21) had become highly intoxicated, started acting strangely, and took off into a cold night without a jacket or phone. When the other minors could not find the person, they called police for help. The intoxicated minor was charged with MIP, but the friends who had been drinking with him and summoned police were not.
MIP Offenses: by the Numbers.
There are three different levels of MIP offenses in Michigan. This is how they break down:
First MIP Offense.
- $100 fine (plus they will impose court costs of about $200).
- No probation.
- No jail.
- No community service.
- No license suspension.
- The MIP conviction is put on your master driver's license record.
- If you are under 18, your parents will be notified.
- Minor in Possession Diversion Program.
- Fine of $100.
- Court costs of about $400.
- Probation for 6-12 months.
- Community service possible;
- If you do not successfully complete the probation you can be jailed for violating your probation terms.
- Drug abuse prevention, treatment or rehab possible
- Random drug and alcohol breath or urine testing.
- The benefit to doing this first offender MIP program is that if successfully completed you will not have a criminal conviction and it is not put on your master driving record. The downside is that if you violate your probation terms (i.e. you test dirty or pick up another MIP or criminal charge), the judge can jail you for up to 30 days for violating probation.
Second MIP Offense.
- Fine of $200 plus court costs;
- Probation of 12 -24 months;
- Driver’s license is suspended for 60 days, followed by a 90 day restricted license period;
- Up to 30 days jail if you violate your probation;
- Drug abuse prevention, treatment or rehab possible;
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing;
- Community service possible.
Third & Subsequent MIP Offenses.
- Fine of $300 plus court costs;
- Probation of 12 – 24 months;
- Driver’s license suspended for 60 days, followed by a restricted license period of 305 days;
- Up to 60 days jail if you violate the terms of probation;
- Drug abuse prevention, treatment or rehab likely;
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing;
- Community service very likely.
Why an MIP Conviction is a Bad Idea.
The MIP ticket looks and feels just like a speeding ticket. The only difference is it is yellow instead of green. Speeding tickets (green color) are "civil infractions" and put on your driver's license but not on your permanent criminal history. If you plead guilty and pay the MIP $100 fine you admit criminal guilt to a criminal offense that stays on your criminal history and driving record the rest of your life.
A criminal conviction can affect your driver's license, insurance, ability to get a job, eligibility for grants, admission to schools, and scholarships. It can also affect what jobs you get later in life. Want to be a school teacher or a school bus driver? An MIP conviction can ruin that dream. Since an MIP conviction is put on your permanent automobile driving record, it will affect your insurance rates and potentially place you in a high risk pool or make you uninsurable (if you doubt this, just ask your parents).
MIP – Transport or Possess Alcohol in a Car
A person under age 21 is prohibited from transporting or possessing alcohol in a car (a/k/a motor vehicle). We have rarely seen this charge used. What it means is: if you are under age 21 you cannot transport or possess alcohol inside a car, motorcycle, or anything that is has a motor. Whether the beer cans or bottles of Hard Lemonade are open or closed makes no difference. If they are in your car and there is no one age 21 or older in the car, you can be charged with this crime even if you are just making out in a parking lot. You gotta love the logic of modern criminal laws…
If you are over age 21 you can transport and possess alcohol in a car, but none of the containers can be open (there is a narrow exception for open bottles of wine – so long as they are tightly corked and in the trunk (of the far rear of the car).
The moral of the story is: Don't keep full or empty beer cans or bottles of alcohol in your car at any time. If your dad asks you to return some empties to the store, you should probably decline unless he goes with you.
A minor transporting or possessing alcohol in a car is a criminal misdemeanor which can carry up to 90 days in jail and a first offense IS a jailable offense (unlike minor in possession charges), and/or probation, community service, fines and costs, etcetera. Also, your car can be impounded. This crime cannot be charged if you have an accompanying adult who is age 21 or older, or if your job requires you to transport alcohol.
MIP – Driving a Car – Zero Tolerance
Zero Tolerance is a charge that applies to a person under age 21 who operates a car or motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of over .02 or more. In simple terms, Zero Tolerance is the same as 'drunk driving' for those under age 21. It has the same effect and penalties as drunk driving (OWI – Operating under the Influence, or DUI – Driving Under the Influence).
This is a serious. Not only do you get a permanent criminal conviction from it, but it placed on your driver's license where it stays forever. Aside from the normal misdemeanor criminal penalties, which include up to 93 days in jail, about $1000 in fines and court costs, and four points on your driver's license, the state of Michigan revokes your driver's license for six months.
Those who are convicted also are sent a bill from the state for $500 for two years (total $1000) for being a "bad driver" (a/k/a the Michigan Driver's Responsibility Fee).
"Don't drink and drive" is something you should pay serious attention to if you are under age 21. Your drunk driving limit is not .08 but rather, .02 which is about one shot or one drink. Zero Tolerance convictions can be used in some circumstances to enhance a later-in-life drunk driving offense to a higher charge.
The State of Michigan has some of the toughest Zero Tolerance, Possession and Transport, and MIP laws in the country. An MIP related charge can only be given to someone under age 21. You have your entire life ahead of you. Spend the money and hire a lawyer.
Invest the time and money to get legal advice. It is an investment in your future. Don't let one mistake ruin your future.
– – You may want to visit our other MIP page: MIP Offenses & PBT Tests
– – – Another page to check out: College Students Rights and Legal Resource Page.
Attorney Bruce Alan Block is a Grand Rapids West Michigan MIP Lawyer experienced with defending MIP, Zero Tolerance, marijuana, and other criminal charges. He has worked with college students from Calvin College, Grand Valley University, Western Michigan, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, and many. many more, defending young people's rights in court on charges such as Minor in Possession, Zero Tolerance, Indecent Exposure, flashing, urinating in public, and much more. Don't let a mistake end a promising career.
If you or a family member has been charged with or accused of a crime you need immediate advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer, Call (616) 676-8770.
Bruce Alan Block, PLC
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1155 East Paris Ave. SE Suite 300, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 676-8770
Serving Clients throughout Western Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Ada, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Cascade, Wyoming, Byron Center, Wyoming, Caledonia, Cascade, Rockford, Holland, Grand Haven, Grandville, Kent, Barry, Ottawa, Muskegon and Ionia County.
We represent college students from Calvin College, Aquinas, Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan State University, Ferris State, and Western Michigan University.