Texas Minor in Possession Laws
Texas has taken a harsh stance against underage drinking over the past decade. One of the tools in the state’s arsenal is the charge of Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, also known as an MIP charge. These are charges that can be brought against the minor actually in possession of the alcohol. Additional charges can be brought against adults who supplied it under other sections of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
At Peveto Law, we take a big-picture approach, considering both the immediate consequences as well as the long-term effects of a minor in possession charge. We can help you understand your rights and possible defenses, and provide top-notch legal defense to avoid a conviction and work toward an expunction.
Minor in possession laws
Under Section 106.05 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, it is illegal for a minor to possess an alcoholic beverage unless one of several exceptions applies. The exceptions are:
- The possession was in the course of the minor’s employment if the minor was an employee of a holder of a liquor license and the employment is not prohibited under the Beverage Code;
- The minor is in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court; or
- The minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer who is enforcing the provisions of the code; or
- The minor is at least 18 years old and a student at a qualifying institution, and the alcohol is provided under a specified course of study and the service and tasting is supervised by a faculty or staff member who is at least 21 years old.
An MIP charge is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas. It is therefore punishable by a fine of up to $500. If the minor is a repeat offender, the fine may be increased up to $2,000, and the defendant may be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail. In addition, a conviction can lead to court-ordered community service of between 8 and 40 hours, as well as court-ordered participation in an alcohol awareness program, and possibly even a suspended driver’s license.
The unwritten effects of a conviction often make a greater impact than the formal sentence. A conviction leaves a record that will need to be disclosed on job applications and could impact school and housing options as well. Before taking on this burden, speak with a Texas underage drinking lawyer at Peveto Law who can help minimize the damage.
Defenses to possession of alcohol by minor in Texas
In addition to the exception listed above, the MIP statute explicitly allows defenses for:
- Minors who have requested emergency medical assistance related to possible alcohol overdose of the minor or someone else, provided the minor was the first person to request medical assistance and he or she remained at the scene and cooperated with medical and law enforcement personnel; or
- Minors who report a sexual assault of themselves or someone else, when it is reported to a health care provider treating the assault victim, a member of law enforcement, or a Title IX coordinator or other employee responsible for responding to sexual assault report at an Constitution of a higher learning.
Understanding and properly raising defenses to alcohol-related charges are a key step in avoiding conviction. At Peveto Law, we make sure clients in and around DFW understand these options so we can prepare the best defense possible.
Expunging a charge for possession of alcohol
If you are convicted of MIP, there is a serious chance it will remain on your permanent record and impact job opportunities, school admissions and scholarships, and carry other consequences down the line. Therefore, it is important to take defense seriously in order to avoid a conviction.
If the charge is dismissed, or if you receive and complete a deferred disposition (probation), it is possible to have the MIP charge expunged. This will prevent it from showing up on your permanent record, and you will no longer have any obligation to report it on job and other applications. There is an expunction opportunity under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, but it is only available to expunge one violation under the Code, and the expungement cannot take place until after you reach age 21.
Speak with a Plano area underage drinking lawyer
Many well-meaning individuals plan to just plead guilty or “no contest” to a charge like MIP so they can pay the fine and move on. While this wish for immediate closure is understandable, this can lead to serious long-term impact that a criminal record brings. Before responding to MIP or related charges, speak with underage drinking lawyer Andrew Peveto. The Peveto Law Firm offers reasonable fees and most cases are eventually dismissed. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation.
Additional MIP charges resources:
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Sec. 106.05 POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/AL/htm/AL.106.htm#106.05
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Sec. 106.071 PUNISHMENT FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED OFFENSE BY MINOR, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/AL/htm/AL.106.htm#106.071