If you have been charged with minor in possession of alcohol (also known as MIP charges) in Fort Worth or Tarrant County, contact a defense attorney right away to see what options you have. It is extremely important that you take this charge seriously, and retain the services of an experienced minor in possession defense attorney. If the person who is charged with an MIP is 18 years of age or older when convicted, the offense will remain on their permanent criminal record.
Texas Laws Regarding Minor in Possession of Alcohol
In Texas, according to the Alcohol Beverage Code, Section 106.05, a law enforcement officer or member of the Texas Alcohol Beverage Control Office, may give a citation to a minor in possession of alcohol (MIP). In order to obtain a conviction on a minor in possession charge, the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor possessed, owned, or controlled an alcoholic beverage; however, a minor does not have to drink the alcoholic beverage in order to be charged with this offense. Some situations which may give rise to a minor in possession charge:
- A minor holds a friend’s drink or can of beer while the friend does something else, such as puts on his or her jacket or goes to the bathroom.
- A minor is sitting at a table where a pitcher of beer is on the table with many glasses around.
- A minor picks up a beer can to carry it to the trash, or a beverage glass to clear the table, when the glass or can still contains alcohol.
According to the statute, a minor is not in violation of the law if he or she is “in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court.”
An Exception Allows Minors to Call for Emergency Help
If a minor is in the presence of a person who has possibly overdosed on alcohol, and the minor calls for emergency assistance, even if the minor who calls is in possession of alcohol, the minor will not be charged. This caveat applies if:
- The minor was the first person to call for help.
- The minor stayed on the scene until help arrived.
- The minor cooperated with emergency and law enforcement personnel who arrived on the scene to help.
Someone who is at least 18 years old may legally taste alcohol if it is done as part of an educational course for educational purposes, and the minor only tastes the beverage but doesn’t swallow it. That is why you need to hire an experienced MIP lawyer who has handled this type of case successfully before.
Situations That Allow a Minor to Possess Alcohol Legally in Texas
There are a few situations where a minor may legally possess an alcoholic beverage. Those include:
- If the minor is lawfully employed by a licensee or permittee which requires possession in the course of the minor’s employment, as long as the possession is not prohibited by any other section of the Alcoholic Beverage Code.
- If the minor is assisting a police officer in enforcement and is under the “immediate supervision” of the peace officer.
Penalties and Fines for an MIP Conviction in Texas
An MIP is a Class C misdemeanor and is punished by a $500 fine for a first offense. If it is a third offense, and the minor is not a child, a fine of at least $250, but not more than $2,000 will be imposed. A sentence of up to six months in jail may also be imposed. A sentence may include both a fine and jail time.
The court may order the penalty deferred and send the minor to an alcohol awareness program approved by the Department of State Health Services. Community service may also be an option.
Don’t risk the possible loss of freedom and/or financial burden of being convicted on a minor in possession charge by attempting to navigate the court system alone. Let our minor in possession attorneys defend you. We will fight hard and help you get the MIP charges dismissed if possible, and keep your criminal record clear. Contact the Hampton Law firm today for a free and confidential consultation.