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What is a Minor in Possession Charge?

Posted in Criminal Defense on October 15, 2019

Laws that refer to individuals under the age of 21 who are in possession of alcohol are often called Minors in Possession Laws (MIP laws) or Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age (PAULA laws). These laws are intended to provide sanctions for anyone under the age of 21 who possession alcohol, even if those individuals are adults (ages 18 to 20). In these cases, they are still considered minors under the law.

California MIP Laws

California’s MIP laws prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from possessing alcoholic beverages in any public place. For a prosecutor to prove that a person violated this law, they must prove the following facts:

  • That the defendant was under 21 at the time of the offense.
  • That the defendant possessed an alcoholic beverage.
  • That the possession of alcohol occurred in a public place, in a place open to the public, or on any street or highway.


Under the state’s Business and Professions Code 25662 PC, a MIP charge is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of a minor in possession charge, a person could face:

  • A $250 fine ($500 for a second or subsequent offense)
  • 24 to 32 hours of community service at an alcohol or drug treatment center or the county coroner’s office
  • Participation in a youthful drunk driver program
  • Suspension of a driver’s license for one year or a one-year suspension delaying a person’s eligibility to obtain a license if they do not already have one.

If a defendant is under 18 years of age at the time of the alleged offense, their case will proceed through the California Juvenile Court System. Instead of the case being heard by a jury, it will be determined in a California juvenile adjudication hearing.

Does it stay on my Record?

Yes, this is a misdemeanor offense that becomes part of a person’s record if they are convicted. If the defendant is under 18, if a judge in the juvenile court system sustains the petition, it essentially becomes a guilty verdict, and the misdemeanor will become a part of the defendant’s permanent record.

What about people who sell alcohol to minors?

California’s Business and Professions Code 25658 prohibits:

  • Giving or selling alcohol to minors
  • Allowing minors to consume alcohol on their premises under certain conditions

Those who violate this law could be charged with a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by fines, community service, and possible jail time.

Can parents give alcohol to their children?

Business and Professions Code 25658.2 BP prohibits parents from giving alcohol to anyone under the age of 18, even if the minor is consuming the alcohol in their private home, under the following circumstances:

  • The child has a blood alcohol level of .05% or greater
  • The parent knowingly allows the child to then drive a vehicle
  • The child causes an accident

Those found guilty of this offense could face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

What if a minor drives while drinking?

California has a zero-tolerance stance towards anyone under 21 drinking and driving. That means anyone under 21 can be charged with DUI if they have been drinking and get behind the wheel of a vehicle, even if their blood alcohol level is below the .08% limit.

If you are facing any MIP charges, contact an attorney right away. The Law Offices of Graham Donath offers free consultations, call our criminal defense attorneys today.