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MIP: Do I Need a Lawyer After Underage Drinking?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

It's rare these days that a person makes it out of high school--let alone to age 21--without engaging in at least one instance of underage drinking. Despite its pervasiveness, underage drinking is a criminal offense and can result in prosecution under a minor in possession (MIP) law. An MIP is serious business that may require an MIP lawyer. Here's why.

Underage drinking isn't the only way to get busted for an MIP. In fact, a minor need not even have consumed alcohol to be found guilty. Most states include mere possession--even of an unopened bottle--in its list of prohibited activities. Some also hand out an MIP if a minor attempts to purchase alcohol.

Depending on the jurisdiction, an MIP will either result in a ticket or an arrest. Either way, an MIP violation almost always includes a trip in front of a judge, where an MIP lawyer may come in handy.

Underage drinking can result in a variety of sentences since judges have discretion in handing out punishments. This is even truer in juvenile court. An offender can lose his driver's license temporarily or permanently, be forced to do community service or attend diversionary programs, and may potentially lose freedom via a curfew or house arrest. Moreover, not every state will permit an MIP to be expunged from a person's criminal record. An MIP can haunt you forever.

MIPs are also notoriously difficult to defend against. Add this to the potentially steep punishment, and it's clear why it might be wise to hire an MIP lawyer if you're busted for underage drinking.

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