What is a Minor in Possession (MIP) in Texas?
Texas takes underage drinking very seriously, and its laws back it up.
That includes minor in possession, or MIP, in which someone under age 21 is in direct possession of alcohol or is in a place where alcohol is present such as a vehicle, club, or house party. If you or your child is facing MIP charges, promptly consult with a minor in possession attorney.
There are a few instances where a minor can legally be in possession of alcohol, which we’ll detail later in this post.
A conviction for a MIP can jeopardize a young person’s future and disrupt their life.
If you or your child is arrested for MIP, contact an experienced North Texas minor in possession attorney as soon as possible. The defense team at Varghese Summersett includes Board Certified criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors with four combined decades of fighting to protect our client’s rights.
In this post, we’ll explain Texas’ minor in possession laws, review the penalties for a conviction, and discuss some ways to fight the charges.
What is the Texas law for minor in possession of alcohol?
When it comes to alcohol in Texas, anyone under 21 years old is considered a minor.
It is illegal for a minor to possess, consume, purchase, or attempt to purchase alcohol.
What are the penalties for minor in possession of alcohol in Texas?
Texas has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for alcohol-related offenses by minors.
The penalties for non-driving alcohol-related offenses by minors increase with successive offenses, including buying or attempting to buy alcohol, falsely identifying as 21 years old or older to a person selling or serving alcohol, and possessing or consuming alcohol.
The penalties for non-driving alcohol-related offenses, including minor in possession and public intoxication, are as follows:
1st offense (Class C misdemeanor): Fine of up to $500, eight to 12 hours of community service, mandatory attendance at an Alcohol Awareness course, and a 30-day driver’s license suspension.
2nd offense (Class C misdemeanor): Fine of up to $500, 20-40 hours of community service, attendance at an Alcohol Awareness course, and a 60-day driver’s license suspension.
3rd offense (Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision age 10-17): Fine of up to $500, 20-40 hours of community service, and a six-month driver’s license suspension.
3rd offense (Class B misdemeanor for 17 or older but younger than 21): Fine of up to $2,000, 40-60 hours of community service, up to a six-month jail sentence, and a six-month driver’s license suspension. Deferred disposition is not an option for minors facing a third or subsequent conviction for consumption by a minor.
Minors, alcohol and driving in Texas
A minor can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol By a Minor for having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while driving a vehicle on a public street.
Texas’ 0.08% BAC legal limit of intoxication is irrelevant when a minor is involved.
If a minor does not have a driver’s license, their driving privileges are denied for the length of the suspension.
It’s important to consult with a minor in possession attorney early in the process to best protect your rights and receive the best possible outcome.
What is the implied consent law for minors in Texas?
Any minor in Texas arrested for an offense while operating a motor vehicle (including watercraft) showing any detectable amount of alcohol in their system AUTOMATICALLY CONSENTS to take one or more breath or blood tests.
The results determine the BAC or the presence of drugs in the minor’s body. If the results confirm any amount of alcohol or substance in the minor’s body, their driver’s license is automatically suspended.
1st offense: 60-day suspension
2nd offense: 120-day suspension
3rd and subsequent offenses: Six-month suspension
The defendant or minor in possession attorney can request a hearing to contest whether the police officer had probable cause to pull over and arrest them or contest whether there was any detectable alcohol or controlled substance in the minor’s body with an administrative law judge.
What if a minor refuses breath of blood tests in Texas?
If a minor refuses to submit to a breath or blood test, they could be taken into custody and held in jail until a bond is posted or they appear before a juvenile court judge or magistrate.
Their driver’s license is suspended, or if they don’t yet have a license, their driving privileges are denied.
1st refusal: 180 days
2nd or subsequent refusal: Two years
A respected minor in possession attorney will work to facilitate a speedy release in these circumstances.
When can a minor legally be in possession of alcohol in Texas?
There are a few circumstances when it’s legal for minors to be in possession of alcohol.
Employment: If the minor works at a restaurant or establishment that serves alcoholic beverages.
Supervised: If an adult parent, spouse, or guardian is present.
Police officer supervision: Under the immediate supervision of a law enforcement officer enforcing the alcohol beverage code. For example, a minor helping police in a sting operation.
Part of course work: If a minor is at least age 18 and is enrolled in a course of higher education, they are legally allowed to “taste” an alcoholic beverage without swallowing or consuming the beverage.
The alcohol cannot be purchased by the minor, and the tasting must be supervised by faculty or staff age 21 or older.
Requesting emergency medical assistance: If a minor calls an ambulance because they fear someone has overdosed on alcohol or another substance, they won’t be charged with MIP.
The minor must remain on the scene until medical assistance arrives and cooperate with medical and law enforcement officials.
A dedicated minor in possession attorney will review your case and make sure the prosecution is aware of any of these circumstances.
What is actual possession and constructive possession of alcohol?
The prosecutors must show beyond reasonable doubt that a minor had either actual or constructive possession of alcohol to receive a conviction.
Actual possession: Holding an alcoholic beverage in your hand or in your pocket or purse.
Constructive possession: If alcohol is accessible but not actually possessed by a minor and the minor was aware of the alcohol and was intent on possessing it.
Constructive possession is tougher to prove by a prosecutor. Examples of constructive possession include a minor riding in a vehicle containing an alcoholic beverage or a minor sitting at a table with alcoholic beverages present.
An adept minor in possession attorney will look for holes in the prosecution’s case.
How can minors avoid criminal penalties with a MIP in Texas?
Our highest priority is making sure we avoid a permanent blemish on a young person’s record and ultimately find a pathway to an expunction.
Programs such as Teen Court give minors options to avoid jail time, fines, and a criminal record.
The program options are different from county to county.
For example, Teen Court in Dallas County is a voluntary program for Class C misdemeanor offenses.
The minors are required to do community service and take part in mock court proceedings, with teen volunteers acting as prosecutors and jurors. An adult lawyer or volunteer oversees the process. MIP charges are dropped after completing the program.
A deferred disposition or deferred prosecution might be another option.
Low-risk juvenile offenders charged with their first or second offense are eligible to complete certain requirements within an allotted time, including community service, alcohol awareness courses, counseling, and urine testing.
Is your child facing a minor in possession charge in North Texas? Call us.
Minor in possession of alcohol or drug charges can put your future in jeopardy, affect your education, and turn into a massive inconvenience.
It’s imperative to consult with a skilled minor in possession attorney to protect your or your child’s rights.
The defense team at Varghese Summersett includes Board Certified criminal defense attorneys, a Board Certified juvenile defense attorney, and a slew of former prosecutors. We have decades of combined experience fighting such cases.
For a free consultation, call us at 817-203-2220.