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Minors Are Subject to Charges for Possession of Alcohol. Work with Our Firm to Protect the Futures of Those Facing These Charges.

Lawyer for Minor Possession of Alcohol Charges

A conviction for minor in possession of alcohol can lead to unpleasant consequences for young adults. Minor in possession is a crime and can lead to license suspensions for young people before they have even had a driver's license. Because of the serious nature of criminal charges, it is best to consult with an attorney before making a decision on any case. Mr. Graham is available for free consultations on such cases.

Please see his blog article Minor in Possession in Washington. Serving Spokane County, Whitman County, Ferry County, Lincoln County, Okanogan County, Grant County, Adams County and Stevens County, Mr. Graham will fight to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in your court case.undefined

Under Age Drinking Law in Washington

Washington laws on underage drinking are complicated. In Washington it is illegal for someone under 21 to possess, consume, or to "exhibit the effects of alcohol consumption" while in public. It is either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor depending on how it is charged. It is a defense to the charge if the minor was drinking at home with the parent's blessing, or if the alcohol was consumed in medicine, or as part of a religious ceremony. Minor in possession of alcohol is often referred to as MIP or M.I.P., and is also sometimes written on the ticket by the police as MIPC or M.I.P.C. (Minor in Possession / Consumption). If a person is convicted of M.I.P., the offense can be vacated off a person’s record in 3 years. However, it is best to keep the charge off a person’s record from the start of the court case.

M.I.P. and the Courts

If a child is under 18 and is a first time offender, he or she will be referred to the community diversion board rather than go to court. However, accepting diversion on a minor in possession charge will lead to a license suspension. For a minor over the age of 18, there is no license suspension for M.I.P. However, defendants over 18 will be sent to adult court. Typically, a first time offender is given simple probation, ordered to go to Alcohol Drug Information School (A.D.I.S.) and given a small fine or "court cost assessment." Due to the nationwide health issues, the A.D.I.S. class is typically offered online and is conducted by Zoom.

Legal Issues in Underage Drinking Cases

When these case are fought in court the case usually turns on whether the juvenile in question was truly "possessing" the alcohol. It is not sufficient for a prosecutor to prove that the juvenile was simply present at an underage drinking party. As with all criminal laws, simply being present or witnessing a crime cannot support a conviction. The definition of "possession" is a gray area under the law.undefined

Under Washington law, possession can be "actual" or "constructive". "Actual" possession is when the minor holds the alcohol in his or her hand or in his or her backpack or purse, for example. "Constructive" possession occurs when the minor does not have "actual" possession but the beer or wine is still in his or her "dominion or control". For example, a minor has alcohol in his or her dominion and control when it is sitting on the table in front of him or her, or when he or she tolerates other minors possessing it in his or her car. In many of our cases, there may be no strong factual defense to the MIP charge, but it is still important to hold out for the best resolution possible. Prosecutors are often too busy with more serious charges, and will be pressured to offer compromises to a defendant when faced with the prospect of taking an underage drinking charge to trial. (See also our page on the history of underage drinking laws in Washington.)

Other Possible Charges

Occasionally a M.I.P. charge will be accompanied by a more serious charge pertaining to possession of a fake ID or misrepresenting his or her age in a bar, or an allegation that the child purchased or attempted to purchase liquor, or that the minor will be unlawfully present in an "off-limits" area of a tavern. Individuals over the age of 21 can face charges such as furnishing liquor to a minor. Furnishing alcohol to a minor is not a felony in Washington state, but is taken very seriously by the court system. Charges of Minor Operating Motor Vehicle Over .02 can stem from having consumed alcohol and being behind the wheel. We have also seen MIP tickets be issued in conjunction with other citations.

Free Consultation:

If you would like to discuss your case with me (or the case of your son or daughter), please call. We do free consultations on criminal matters in eastern Washington.

You will receive my honest opinion and I will listen to you and answer your questions. Call (509) 252-9167.