Have You Been Charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Georgia?
All criminal charges are serious matters deserving of the expertise of experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers. However, when the accused is a minor, the need for representation is even more critical. A common charge faced by people under 21 years of age is minor in possession of alcohol (MIP). Sometimes it is called underage possession of alcohol.
What is Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Georgia?
Georgia law prohibits anyone under 21 years of age from consuming alcohol. Many people make the mistake of thinking MIP only applies to drinking alcohol, but it pertains to much more. It includes purchasing alcohol, attempting to purchase, or knowingly possessing any alcoholic beverages. The goal beyond the rule was not just to prohibit underage drinking but to prevent other serious crimes that result from alcohol consumption, such as DUIs.
O.C.G.A. §3-3-23 states: Except as otherwise authorized by law:
- No person knowingly, directly or through another person, shall furnish, cause to be furnished, or permit any person in such person's employ to furnish any alcoholic beverage to any person under 21 years of age;
- No person under 21 years of age shall purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess any alcoholic beverage;
- No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent such person's age in any manner whatever for the purpose of obtaining illegally any alcoholic beverage;
- No person knowingly or intentionally shall act as an agent to purchase or acquire any alcoholic beverage for or on behalf of a person under 21 years of age; or
- No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent his or her identity or use any false identification for the purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage.
To be charged and convicted of MIP in Georgia, the officer only needs to testify that the odor of alcohol was apparent on the minor's breath. Police officers do not have to perform a breathalyzer for a minor to be cited, arrested, or convicted. Observations alone can be enough to convict a person under 21 years of age.
The Penalty for MIP Georgia
A conviction of minor in possession of alcohol in Georgia will be treated as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, the punishment for the first conviction of misdemeanor MIP includes a fine of up to $300, jail time up to 6 months, or both. However, it is possible to negotiate a dismissal of the charges in exchange for community service, an alcohol and drug evaluation, or a combination of other alternatives. However, a person guilty of violating section (4) will be convicted of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A second conviction of MIP will be a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. A conviction for MIP in Georgia can remain on your criminal record permanently. That is why it is critical to hire a Georgia MIP Attorney! We can negotiate for an alternative punishment to avoid having it on your permanent record or having the charge expunged from your criminal record.
A conviction for MIP in Georgia does not automatically come with a license suspension. However, the court does have the discretion and authority to order a license suspension or force you to complete an alcohol and drug risk reduction program within 120 days of the conviction.
If you are a first time offender, the prosecutor may agree to dismiss your case if you enroll in a pretrial diversion program. This program includes fees, probation, community service, random drug screenings, and other requirements. However, if you satisfactorily complete the program, then the charges will be dismissed.
Another alternative sentencing option is a conditional discharge. This is only available once to those that have never been convicted of a drug charge.
No matter if you have been charged with MIP or with a similar crime, our minor in possession of alcohol lawyers in Georgia can help!
A minor convicted of misrepresenting their age, identity, or by using false identification to purchase alcohol while under 21 years of age will have their license suspended. They will need to submit a certificate demonstrating they completed an approved defensive driving course and pay the $200 fee to reinstate their license.
If convicted of attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21, the state of Georgia will suspend the minor's driver's license for between 6 and twelve months. Then, they will have to submit a $35 fee to reinstate their license. If the judge allows a plea of nolo contendere to be entered, the conviction will not be sent to the Department of Driver Services and your license will not be suspended.
If you are convicted of possession of an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21 while operating a motor vehicle, your license will be suspended for 120 days. To reinstate your license, you will need to submit a certificate of completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use/risk reduction program and a $35 fee. If the judge allows a plea of nolo contendere to be entered, the conviction will not be submitted to the Department of Driver Services and your license will not be suspended.
MIP for Persons under 17 Years of Age
If the person charged with MIP is under the age of 17, his or her case will be heard in a Georgia Juvenile Court. However, O.C.G.A. §3-3-23 still applies. If the child is adjudicated delinquent and an order of disposition is entered, the child will have a juvenile record. This will have a significant impact on college dreams and careers that may be on their minds. Everyone makes mistakes but they do not have to impact the rest of their lives. For more information on MIP with regards to people under 17, please visit here.
Georgia Defenses to Minor in Possession of Alcohol
There are many defenses a Georgia MIP Lawyer can use to defend your case. One exception to MIP is possession within the home with parental consent.
There are always alternative options your attorney can consider. There are diversion programs, first-time offender programs, or conditional discharge. There are numerous informal ways of dealing with a MIP charge.
Call an experienced Georgia Minor in Possession Lawyer today to make sure your rights are protected. We will use every tool we have to increase your chances of getting the charges dismissed or keep your permanent criminal record. We frequently resolve these cases through pre-trial diversion programs or a conditional discharge bargain. However, if your case requires it, we are just as skilled in getting a beneficial result by taking the case to trial.
As soon as you have questions or concerns about a MIP in Georgia case, call us. We have the answers to your questions and are prepared to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A conviction for MIP in Georgia can affect your ability to apply for college, student loans, and even future jobs. Do not let a mistake in your youth ruin future opportunities. Call now and let us assist with your case!