Undercover agents have over the years found many minors in possession of alcohol during football games or events like Mardi Gras. People under the age of 21 are minors, and can face MIP charges if they are found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more.
Louisiana Minor in Possession Charges
Minor in possession (MIP) laws help discourage underage minors from consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages in public. You cannot be charged with MIP if:
- You are in a private residence
- Your parents or legal guardian is accompanying you
- You are employed to transport, dispense, or sell an alcoholic beverage and you are handling the beverage in the course of lawful employment
- You are handling the alcoholic beverage for an established religious event or purpose
What many people do not know is that an MIP is a misdemeanor that can be added to your record. This could affect a person’s chances of getting into a school or even future job prospects.
In Baton Rouge, a four-month pre-trial intervention program costing $750 is offered to first-time offenders who face MIP charges. During these four months, the offender will be subjected to random drug tests. You, the offender, will also have to attend MADD victim panel classes and AA meetings, and also perform 16 hours of community service. You will also attend driver improvement school and undergo substance abuse evaluations.
Once the defendant completes the program successfully the misdemeanor will be dismissed. However, the defendant will need to file a motion to expunge the arrest from their record. The expungement does not prevent some state agencies, law enforcement and professional boards from getting access to your records. That means that a misdemeanor charge can still affect future activities like applying for a state job or medical school.
You could decide to plead guilty or go to trial instead of enrolling in the pre-trial intervention program. That means that you will have to pay a fine. The fine for Minor in Possession is $300. First-time offender that can demonstrate that not being able to drive could affect their work or schooling may be issued with a restricted driver’s license by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Before 2016 first-time underage drinkers could face the threat of spending more than 6 months in jail and also had to pay a fine. But the story is different for re-offenders.
A misdemeanor summons is like a traffic ticket issued to minors found in possession of an alcoholic beverage in public. But paying the fine on an MIP like you would for a traffic ticket is pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. Parents should immediately contact a lawyer who can guide them on the necessary steps to take, instead of going ahead and paying the fine. Do not let a public fun event put a mark on your record. An experienced lawyer will work to ensure that your rights are protected and may even have your fines reduced or removed.