Minor in Possession or MIP laws in Arizona prohibit the purchase or presence of a minor in an establishment that sells alcohol. These laws are put in place to reduce the use of alcohol in teens and minors under the age of 21, to protect them and the public from harm. Barring a few exceptions, minors who try to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment that restricts minors due to its alcohol license, can be charged with an MIP and face misdemeanor charges and penalties.
Alcohol consumption by minors can lead to dangerous activities, including driving under the influence, sexual crimes and health hazards. Restricting even the possession of alcohol by minors is meant to reduce the occurrence of crimes that are related to poor decisions made under the influence of alcohol. Arizona has tough Minor in Possession laws that restrict almost any type of alcohol possession or consumption.
What Are the MIP Laws in AZ?
The Minor in Possession laws in AZ focus on minors in the presence of alcohol, more than the actual possession of an alcoholic beverage. To purchase alcohol or enter an establishment serving alcohol, you must be 21 years of age, with only a few exceptions. It is also illegal to consume alcohol, which is covered under similar, but separate, charges of Minor in Consumption. The laws regarding MIP are covered under Title 4 in the Arizona Revised Statutes and include:
- Arizona Revised Statute Section 4-241L. Anyone who is under the legal drinking age of 21 and uses false identification to provoke an employee of the establishment to sell, serve, give or furnish spirituous liquor to them can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.
- Arizona Revised Statute Section 4-241M. Anyone under the age of 21 who solicits another person of legal age to purchase, sell, give, serve or furnish spirituous liquor can be found guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.
- Arizona Revised Statute Section 4-241N. Anyone under the age of 21 that uses a fake or false identification or a valid piece of identification that belongs to another person to gain access to a licensed establishment for alcohol can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.
Class 1 misdemeanors can have fines up to $2,500 and up to six months of jail time. Class 3 misdemeanor offenses can have fines up to $500 and up to 30 days in the county jail. Any MIP offense can also include suspension of driving license for up to 180 days in addition to jail time and fines.
Exceptions to Arizona MIP Laws
There are exceptions to these Minor in Possession laws in Arizona, but very few. Minors under the age of 21 are not allowed to buy, possess, be in a licensed establishment or consume alcohol in the state of Arizona without reprimand unless one of these exceptions is met:
- Entering licensed establishments. A minor under the age of 21 can be allowed inside a licensed establishment that sells alcohol if they are accompanied by their parent, legal guardian or spouse that is above the age of 21. They are not allowed to buy or consume alcohol but can be inside the establishment.
- Consuming alcoholic beverages for religious ceremony. Alcohol can be consumed by a minor under the age of 21 if it is part of a religious ceremony or exercise. This is only allowed if the consumption of alcohol by the minor does not in any way endanger the public.
- Consuming alcohol for medical reasons. An underage person can consume alcohol if it is for a legitimate medical reason and the consumption does not pose any risk to the health or wellbeing of the public.
- Purchasing alcohol. A minor of at least 15 years of age up to the age of 19 can purchase alcohol for law enforcement purposes to ensure establishments are not selling to minors. The minor cannot consume alcohol, only attempt to purchase it under the supervision of law enforcement.
- Serving or selling alcohol. In Arizona, minors can sell and serve alcohol under the age of 21, even when they cannot buy or consume the beverages themselves. On-premises servers and bartenders must be at least 19 years of age to serve beer, wine or spirits. Retail establishments can hire those 16 years or older to sell alcohol beverages but a manager or supervisor must be present.
A Minor in Possession or MIP violation can result in a misdemeanor that will go on a person’s permanent record. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor for breaking an MIP law in Arizona, you should seek legal advice. At Matthew Lopez Law, we can help you fight MIP or MIC charges. In many cases, we may be able to reduce the charge or have the charges dismissed altogether.
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.