How couldI be punished for a misdemeanor M.I.P. with an open alcoholic beverage?

UPDATED: Dec 4, 2011

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How couldI be punished for a misdemeanor M.I.P. with an open alcoholic beverage?

This is my first offense and I am 19 and a full-time student and worker. I signed the ticket, however there was no evidence that I drank the alcohol and I wasn’t driving at any point. I’m really just hoping to avoid probation, as this would make working and going to school nearly impossible.

Asked on December 4, 2011 under Criminal Law, California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You do not need to be driving to be cited for such an offense. Additionally, you need not be actually drinking. You merely need to be a "minor in possession" of alcohol. That having been said there are several legal defenses that apply to this law. For example: you didn't actually possess the alcohol (it wasn't yours); you were delivering it under orders from a boss or parent, etc and only possessed it for that limited purpose; the alcohol was discovered during an illegal search and seizure; or you otherwise acted responsibly by calling 911 to report that you or another minor needed medical attention.

While this offense is only punishable by community service and/or a fine, it is nevertheless a misdemeanor, a criminal offense. This means that a conviction will become part of a person's permanent criminal record. Additionally, the vehicle code provides that a conviction for an MIP will result in a 1 year suspension of the minor's driver's license or a 1 year delay in their opportunity to obtain a driver's license if he is not old enough to obtain a license. This law further provides that an additional 1 year suspension will be added to each subsequent underage alcohol or drug-related conviction. 

A conviction for MIP will appear on your criminal record. This can impact your ability to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, or other licensed professional. It must also be disclosed employers and many college/graduate school applications ask whether you have been convicted of a crime.

At this point, you should consult with a criminal/DUI attorney in the area in which this happened.  

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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