Can I fight an MIP charge?

UPDATED: Aug 15, 2011

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Can I fight an MIP charge?

I am 17 and I was a passenger when the car got pulled over. The driver was completely sober and all the passengers had just begun drinking a 4loko, which wouldn’t get us anywhere near intoxicated since 3 of us were sharing it. Also, the officer never saw me take a sip and he never breathalyzed me but he gave me the citation anyway. Is this case winnable for me?

Asked on August 15, 2011 California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Under CA law no person under the age of 21 years may be in possession of any alcoholic beverage on any street, highway, public place, or any place open to the public.  In other words, CA is a zero tolerance state. Possession alone - not consumption - is enough to be arrested (for a misdemeanor) or ticketed (for an infraction).

A Minor in Possession (MIP) can have some very serious consequences.  A first time offense could carry a fine of up to $5,000, a 6-month suspension of a CA driver’s license, and up to 5 years of probation. Mandated community service and alcohol awareness classes may also be imposed. Further, repeat charges may also bring even harsher penalties.

In addition to losing your license 6 months or more, an MIP suspension on your DMV record will be used against you in the future if you are charged with another alcohol related offense or any offense that affects your license to drive. You may also face increases in your car insurance rates and you could be denied certain jobs and/or licenses.

You should definitely consult with an attorney in your area who handles these type cases. The can best protect your rights and see to it that your MIP as a little effect on your life as possible.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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