Minor in possession (MIP) is a citation issued when someone under the age of 21 is caught drinking. It is a common offense at musical festivals, as youngsters take advantage of the chaotic atmosphere to skirt alcohol laws. However, plainclothes police officers also attend these festivals, so there is a fairly high chance of getting caught. Here is what to know about MIP and how to determine whether an offender needs to enter a minor in possession program in Denver, CO.
Consequences for minor in possession
Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy towards minors drinking alcohol. Even if a minor only consumes one sip of a beer, they can face a citation. That is why it is nearly impossible to talk an officer out of issuing a citation. In fact, attempting to do so may make things worse.
Penalties for a first-time offense include a fine of no more than $250, up to 24 hours of useful public service and an alcohol evaluation or assessment. If a minor has a serious issue with alcohol, they may also be referred to an education or treatment program. On a second offense, a minor may face a three-month driver’s license suspension, with that extending to one year for a third offense.
What to do if caught
Generally, if you are under the age of 21, the best course of action is to not drink alcohol. Even the penalties for a first offense can prove burdensome, and no one wants to risk additional offenses. As indicated above, it can be hard to avoid undercover officers at festivals, and bars and restaurants are less likely to serve underage customers, as that risks their liquor licenses.
However, people make mistakes. Anyone under 21 who is caught drinking by an undercover officer should follow these tips:
- Do not provide false information about identity. This is criminal impersonation, which is a Class 6 felony and punishable by 12 to 18 months in prison, one year of parole and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. While MIP is fairly minor, trying to get away with it by presenting a fake ID or false identity will make everything worse—and life-alteringly so.
- Do not admit to drinking. One sip can lead to an instant MIP, and it is not possible to talk an officer out of issuing a citation.
- Do not run away from police officers. This will upgrade an MIP from a citation to a Class 2 misdemeanor, which results in higher fines and the possibility of jail time.
- Do not allow officers to perform tests on you, whether it is to examine your eyes or take a breathalyzer. You are being charged with possession, not a DUI, so refusing does not result in the same consequences.
- Do not consent to a search. You always have the option to say no, and that includes to officers requesting to smell your drink cup.
When someone is issued an MIP citation, the court may require them to attend a minor in possession program in Denver, CO, which helps with alcohol dependency issues that led to the citation. Continuum Recovery of Colorado offers this treatment. Contact us today to learn more or get started.