If you or your child are facing a minor in possession charge in Texas, you need to understand what the law says and what penalties are associated with a conviction.
Below, we’re going to discuss what the law says and how an experienced Fort Worth criminal attorney can help you.
The Texas Minor in Possession Law
Texas law prohibits a minor under the age of 21 from engaging in the following acts:
- Buying alcohol
- Possessing alcohol
- Consuming alcohol
- Intentionally using false information to obtain alcohol
- Driving or operating a motor vehicle or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol
- Importation or possession with intent to import alcohol into the state of Texas
Are There Exemptions?
Only four exemptions exist for minors accused of alcohol possession or consumption.
- If the minor is employed, he or she is permitted to possess, but not consume, alcohol during the terms of employment. A minor aged 16 or older may be employed in a wine-only store. A minor aged 18 or older may be employed in a place with a mixed beverage permit, permitting that the minor does not sell, prepare, or serve mixed beverages.
- If the minor possesses or consumes alcohol while in view of their own parent, guardian, or adult spouse, the law permits the use.
- If the minor is involved in an enforcement action conducted by a peace officer, such as an undercover operation, a minor may lawfully possess or purchase alcohol.
- If the minor is the first person to report another individual’s alcohol overdose, and remains on the scene and cooperates with emergency workers, the law makes allowance for the minor’s possession and consumption.
Penalties Associated with MIP in Texas
A violation of the Texas minor in possession laws will result in a Class C misdemeanor charge. This involves a maximum fine of $500. A minor may be required to perform eight to 12 hours of community service in programs related to alcohol awareness or remediation programs deemed appropriate by the judge. If the minor successfully completes the service and reoffends, the prior service is counted as a first conviction.
If the minor has a driver’s license, it may be revoked for 30 days after a first offense, 60 days after a second offense, and 180 days for third or subsequent offenses. Other penalties for subsequent offenses may be imposed by the judge. The fines for subsequent offenses may range from $250 to $2,000 each. Jail time up to 180 days may also be assigned with, without, or in addition to subsequent fines.
Additionally, adults are prohibited from selling alcohol to minors, purchasing alcohol for minors, or providing alcohol to minors. Violating this law may result in Class A misdemeanor charges. The penalties involve one year in jail, maximum fines of $4,000, or both, to be determined by the judge. Up to 40 hours of community service may also be assigned.
A retailer who is found guilty of selling, dispensing, or serving alcohol to a minor may lose the liquor license or permit for up to 60 days for a first offense, three months for a second offense, and 12 months for a third offense.
Get the Legal Assistance You Need
A minor in possession charge can come as a shock to both the alleged underage violator and his or her family members. Do not allow your feelings about the situation to prevent you from protecting your rights and putting forward the strongest possible defense.
Reach out to our office today to schedule a free, confidential meeting and we will work hard to protect your reputation and defend your rights.
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.