What exactly is a Minor in Possession (MIP) Charge?
You will receive a MIP charge if you are under the age of twenty one and are caught with alcohol. This does not mean that you have to be drinking alcohol, you can still be charged with a MIP for only the possession of alcohol, like holding a beer at a party, or purchasing a six pack at a store.
Is a MIP charge considered a misdemeanor or felony?
The first charge against a person will be a Second Degree Misdemeanor and the second or subsequent charge against a person will be a First Degree Misdemeanor.
Can I go to jail for a MIP charge?
Yes, a MIP charges is considered a criminal offense and therefore jail time is an option. The length of jail time depends on the number of MIP charges you already have.
Can I get in trouble for holding a drink containing alcohol even if I am not drinking it?
Yes, it is against the law for a person under the age of twenty one to handle alcohol in any way. The only exception to this rule is if a person eighteen years of age or older works at a place where alcohol is served, then they will be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages.
What if I go to a party where there is alcohol but I do not drink, can I get in trouble?
It depends on the circumstances. If you were holding alcohol or pouring drinks for others and the police caught you handling alcohol then yes you can be charged with a MIP charge. However, you should consult with a lawyer immediately if you were charged and did not touch any alcoholic beverage.
What are the penalties if this is my first MIP charge?
The penalties for a first MIP charge consist of a Second Degree misdemeanor charge, up to a $500 fine, and up to 60 days in jail.
What are the penalties if this is my second MIP charge?
The penalties for a Second or subsequent MIP charge will be a First Degree Misdemeanor charge on your record, up to a $1000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Will the police notify my parents if I get an MIP charge?
If you are under the age of 18 then the police are required to notify your parents.
What if I am 18 and am caught holding, but not drinking alcohol, can I still get in trouble?
If you are at a place of employment that requires you to sever alcohol then NO, you cannot get in trouble, but you can get a MIP charge is you are over eighteen and are in possession of alcohol that is not work related, even if you are not drinking it.
Should I hire a lawyer to fight my case?
Yes, there are a multitude of defenses for this charge and an experienced attorney will know how to handle your case and find the best defense. If you do nothing about your charge then you will have to pay fines and could possibly do jail time. You will also have a suspended license which can lead to other complications like the lack of transportation to work and school. Hiring a lawyer will probably save you money in the long run and help get your charges reduced.
What type of lawyer should I look for?
You should hire a criminal defense attorney because a MIP charge is a criminal offense. Make sure to find a lawyer that is experienced with MIP cases and has a good reputation at getting results. Do your research and set up a consultation with an attorney to see what they can do for you.
What if I work at a restaurant and serve alcohol, can I still be charged with a MIP charge?
No, you cannot be charged with a MIP violation if you are over the age of 18. But, if you are younger than 18 you are not legally allowed to handle alcoholic beverages at work.
What happens if I am caught drinking and driving and am under 21 years of age?
Florida has a Zero Tolerance law in effect, which basically means that even if you are under the legal drinking limit, which is a BAC level of 0.08 percent, you will still be penalized. You will automatically receive a license suspension for six months if your BAC level is over .02 percent and if you are over the legal drinking limit of 0.08 percent you will face the penalties of a DUI which could result in jail time and fines into the thousands of dollars.