Texas underage drinking laws can sometimes be unfairly applied. A good case-in-point? The various circumstances that can lead to a minor being charged with MIP — Minor in Possession — without ever drinking a drop.
Texas MIP laws say it’s illegal for any person under 21-years-old to possess, buy or consume alcohol; or to intentionally give falsified information to obtain it. (Sections 106.02(a), 106.04(a), 106.05(a), and 106.07(a))
So let’s take a look at a few of the precarious situations in which your minor may wind up charged, what it could mean for their future, and the ways you might be able to fight back.
Different Situations That Can Lead to Texas MIP Charges
A citation for MIP may be issued by a Texas Alcohol Beverage Control (TABC) Officer or any police officer to any underage individual in Texas for the illegal ownership, control or possession of an alcoholic beverage.
Guilt by Association (or Proximity)
A minor doesn’t have to be actively involved in underage drinking or be legally drunk for them to be found in violation of Texas MIP laws.
Usually these kind of MIP convictions are drawn from situations involving “constructive possession.” In other words, the minor received a citation by simply being at a party, bar, nightclub, or vehicle where alcohol is present.
Other Common MIP Scenarios
Any of the following situations can also lead to a MIP charge in this state:
- A minor holding a beer- whether open or unopened
- A minor sitting at a table among several other people who are drinking beer from a pitcher with cups lying around them
- A minor being found with empty beer cans or cups even if he or she was gathering them to discard as trash
In any case, something as simple as a minor being found guilty of a Texas MIP can lead to serious consequences impacting the rest of his or her life.
A Single MIP Conviction in Texas Can Ruin Your Life
Initially, the complications of a MIP conviction can seem fairly banal. A minor who’s convicted of a MIP crime in Texas can face several penalties including:
- Suspension of one’s driving license
- Monetary fines
- Community service
- Mandatory attendance of an alcohol education program
That’s not where the consequences end, however. Even though a first time MIP conviction will not result in jail time, it may have a significant negative impact on the young person’s future prospects:
- Accessing certain schools and colleges
- Receiving educational loans and scholarships
- Securing housing
- Gaining employment from certain employers
- Pursuing opportunities involving a criminal background check
For these reasons, MIP charges shouldn’t be taken lightly. One needs to seek out a good MIP defense attorney, and together they’ll create a unique legal defense strategy to aggressively fight the charge. That way, your minor not only keeps their criminal record clean, but also protects their future.
Fighting a MIP Charge in Texas
There are several possible defenses to MIP charges in Texas. Here are five of the most common strategies:
Identification Error. The substance in question wasn’t an alcoholic beverage. The police made an error when identifying the drink or substance in question.
Involuntary Intoxication. The defendant’s judgment and mental capacity were momentarily impaired because the defendant was drugged without his or her consent and knowledge.
Minor Legally in Possession. The defendant possessed or consumed alcohol when their parent, adult spouse or legal guardian was visibly present
Seeking Medical Care. The defendant violated MIP laws while seeking emergency medical care for a victim of possible alcohol overdose.
Like the old saying goes, if you aren’t ready to do the time, you shouldn’t do the crime – if you’re not of legal age, our advice? Stay away from alcohol!
However, if you’ve already done the crime and now face a Texas MIP charge, you’ll need a skilled Fort Worth MIP defense attorney to help you fight the charge.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.