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How serious is a minor in possession of alcohol charge ?

As any Tempe area parent knows, raising children is often challenging and stressful. As children get older, they may engage in rebellious or reckless behavior. Although on some level this behavior is to be expected, when the behavior involves legal consequences that could potentially jeopardize a child’s future, the situation becomes more serious.

If a minor child is charged with being in possession of alcohol, a parent may have questions about the significance of the charge and what steps can be taken to mitigate any potentially negative outcomes.

The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21. Arizona law explicitly states that no person under 21 years old may possess or consume alcohol, even if they have the permission of their parents and are at a legally licensed location. This means that anyone under the age of 21 who is caught simply holding or carrying alcohol could be charged. The alcohol may be a bottle of wine, case of beer or bottle of liquor.

Minor in possession versus minor in consumption

It is important to distinguish a minor in possession of alcohol (“MIP”) charge from a minor in consumption of alcohol (“MIC”) charge. If a person under the age of 21 possesses alcohol, they may face a MIP charge, while if there is evidence the alcohol was consumed, an MIC charge could be issued.

Although the penalties for an MIC charge can be more severe, an MIP charge should still not be taken lightly. An MIP charge is a misdemeanor; however, penalties could range from probation, to fines, to potential jail time.

All these things could result in missed or lost opportunities, financial difficulties or complications with future educational or employment opportunities. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know and understand the law and are familiar with how to minimize the negative effects of an MIP charge.