California Minor in Possession Laws
If you are under the age of 21 in California, you are not legally allowed to buy, posses, or consume alcohol. If you are a minor and are found in possession of alcohol (MIP), you will be charged for it. A minor in possession offense is not related to a DUI offense, but it can still have a significant impact on your ability to drive and a DUI may still be able to help you.
Many people are not aware of the fact that a minor in possession conviction will lead to a one-year mandatory sentence of your driver's license. This is true whether you are driving or not when you are arrested for possession of alcohol. California lawmakers want to do everything they can to make sure that drivers make safe decisions. There are two laws that relate to minors in possession of alcohol. One charge is part of the California Business and Professions Code (25662) and the other is part of California's Vehicle Code (13202.5).
Business and Professions Code 25662 BP
Anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from drinking or possessing alcohol. According to California's Business and Professions Code 25662 (a):
any person under the age of 21 years who has any alcoholic beverage in his or her possession on any street or highway or in any public place or in any place open to the public is guilty of a misdemeanor
The simple act of having alcohol in your possession can lead to a conviction even if you had not consumed the alcohol. Holding a beer in the par can result in a violation. A bar or restaurant is also considered a public place as is your vehicle if you are on the road. When vehicles are involved, you may also face charges for an open container or DUI violation. The only exception for a minor possessing alcohol is if the minor was making a delivery for an adult such as a parent or guardian or as part of their job.
The penalties for a 25662 offense are as follows:
- First offense:
- A fine of $250
- 24 to 36 hours of community service
- Repeat offense:
- A fine of $500
- 36 to 48 hours of community service
For many, the most severe penalty comes from the license suspension that results from the subsequent vehicle code violation.
Generally, a 25662 charge is defensible by arguing that the police officer had no right to search you. For example, if you are stopped for speeding and police find alcohol in the backseat but you were not drinking and police had no reason to search your vehicle, the evidence (i.e. the alcohol) may not be admissible in court. If there is no evidence, there is no way to prove you are guilty.
California Vehicle Code section 13202.5
You may think that because you were not behind the wheel or were not charged with a DUI, that your driving privileges are safe. This is not true and immediate action is required. When you are convicted of a minor in possession charge, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your license.
California Vehicle Code section 13202.5 states that when a person is convicted of a minor in possession (MIP) charge, they will lose their ability to drive for one year. This is an important distinction to make because license suspension is not part of the sentence, but rather an effect of a conviction of the 25662 BP offense.
The only way to fight this license suspension is to request a DMV Hearing and argue your defense. You only have ten business days after a violation to request this hearing. If fail to do so, you will face license suspension for one year. Even if you have not gotten your driver's license yet, you will have to wait an additional year before you are allowed to apply for one.
California Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
Driver's license suspension is a real danger when you're convicted for any type of juvenile crime like MIP. Individuals who are concerned about keeping their license when charged with an MIP should consult with an attorney. We understand the California legal process and will explain to you the best way to preserve your driving abilities. Don't let an MIP charge ruin your future. If you or your child have been arrested for possession of alcohol under 21, call us today.
Our firm has the experience and dedication that you need to successfully win your case. We have lawyers from different backgrounds in order to meet all of our clients' needs. We have insight into both sides of the California legal justice system. Best of all, we will use our collective experience to provide you with the best results possible. Call us now for a free consultation and to find out more about what a California criminal attorney can do for you.