Minor in Consumption or MIC in Arizona is strictly enforced and can have serious consequences for those found guilty of this crime. While it is a misdemeanor and not a felony charge, it can still stay on a person’s permanent record and affect many aspects of their lives. In addition, there are steep penalties attached to a MIC offense, including possible jail time, fines, community service and alcohol treatment classes. An MIC charge should not be taken lightly, as it can have long-term effects on you and your future aspirations.
Why are the laws so strict on underage drinking? The statistics about the effect of underage drinking tell the tale. According to the Center for Disease Control, underage drinking is the culprit for 4,300 deaths of minors every year, with an estimated economical cost in 2010 of $24 billion dollars in the U.S. In 2010 there were an estimated 189,000 visits to emergency rooms by minors that were alcohol related. Underage drinking has documented costs on both personal and society levels that make it necessary to regulate and enforce underage drinking laws.
Arizona MIC Laws and Penalties
Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking, which means the amount of alcohol does not matter; any consumption of alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal and can be penalized. The only exceptions to this law is alcohol that is consumed for a religious ceremony or for a legitimate medical purpose, but neither instance should put the publics’ welfare at risk.
Any consumption of alcohol can result in an MIC. While first offenses often end in probation, fines and alcohol classes or community service, it is a misdemeanor that can result in jail time. There can also be a suspension of the person’s driving license for up to two years. What is the most damaging, is the criminal charge on the minor’s record that can follow them the rest of their lives.
Underage Drinking and DUI in AZ
Due to the zero tolerance on underage drinking in AZ, a minor can be charged with a DUI, regardless of their blood alcohol content. Any alcohol, even just a small amount, can result in a DUI charge. In Arizona, a first offense DUI can have the following penalties:
- Up to a two-year suspension of driver’s license
- Class 1 misdemeanor record
- At least 1 day in jail
- Fines and court costs of approximately $1,700
- Alcohol classes, community service or treatment, depending on the will of the court
In addition to MIC and DUI charges, a minor can face several other offenses related to underage drinking. It is illegal to buy alcohol or be within an establishment that serves alcohol (unless accompanied by a legal guardian). This can lead to additional MIP charges, adding to the fines and penalties. Some of the other alcohol related charges include:
- Using a fake ID to buy alcohol or enter a licensed drinking establishment
- Possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle
- Minor soliciting a person of legal age to buy alcohol for their use
Other Consequences of MIC Convictions
It is not just legal penalties that minors face with an MIC conviction; there are many other consequences that accompany this conviction. For students, it can be expulsion or suspension from their schools, whether it be high school or college. This can also lead to disciplinary actions that can affect a student’s eligibility for financial aid. It can also mean expulsion from team activities that have a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking, such as sport or club participation. In addition, those with a DUI conviction can face high insurance premiums or be dropped altogether from their insurance carrier.
Fighting a MIC Charge in AZ
There are options available to fight an MIC charge in Arizona. With the help of a lawyer, you may be able to plead to a lesser offense or possibly go to trial to seek a non-guilty verdict. Another option for first-time offenders is diversion programs. Some county and city courts and schools offer diversion programs that can allow those with MIP or MIC charges to undergo classes and complete community service to have the criminal charges dismissed. This is often the best option for those who qualify, giving them the chance to overcome a bad decision and keep it off their permanent record.
Don’t let a mistake ruin your future. If you are charged with an MIC or MIP offense in Arizona, call us at Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC. We offer a free consultation to discuss the options of fighting your underage alcohol charge and can help you find the right resolution. We have helped many young people in Arizona put an MIC or MIP charge in their past so they can continue working toward a bright future.
The materials provided herein have been prepared by Matthew Lopez Law for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. No client or other reader should rely on or act or refrain from acting on the basis of any matter or information contained in on the website of Matthew Lopez Law without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.