Many states outlaw the possession of alcohol by minors. These minor in possession laws (MIP) differ from minor in consumption laws, which only prohibit underage drinking but not possession. This post will go over the variation among state laws regulating underage drinking.
Almost every state forbids minors from possessing alcohol. In fact, some states do not even require the police to witness a minor holding or possessing alcohol to result in the charge. If the police detain an underage person (someone under 21) and determine that he or she is under the influence of alcohol, then they can be subject to a MIP charge.
MIPs, while they sound innocuous, can carry significant penalties. For example, some states require mandatory license suspension of up to one year. Every state requires that the convicted person pay fines and fees to the state.
But, in Maryland, the police are not permitted to stop a child and charge them with a MIP unless they see the minor drinking alcohol. Furthermore, in Maryland, a MIP does not even rise to the level of a misdemeanor. Therefore it may not necessarily enter as part of your child's permanent record. Maryland is one of the most liberal states when it comes to underage drinking laws, however, if your child is attending university out of state, he or she may want to read up on their local underage drinking laws.
Is your child facing a criminal investigation for underage drinking? If he or she is, then you may want to speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible. Most courts are willing to negotiate a reduced punishment for the first time or young offenders, especially given the huge consequences a charge can have on a child's future. A lawyer can help ensure that one mistake does not derail your whole child's life.