It’s common knowledge that the legal drinking age across the United States is 21 years old, however this law does not prevent many underage drinkers, usually “adult” offenders from consuming alcohol. Even though trends are suggesting that more and more teenagers are choosing not to drink, MIP laws (Minor in Possession) laws in Missouri are still broken every year, and a lot of first-time DUI arrests are in fact teens..
Each state has specific laws regarding MIP laws, for example in some states it is legal for a parent or guardian to provide a minor with alcohol under their supervision. Missouri also has specific laws for Minors in Possession. This information along with penalties for breaking the laws will be discussed below.
According to Missouri Revised Statute, § 311.325.1
Any person who is under age 21 years and commits the following is in violation of the Minor Consumption and possession of alcohol laws of Missouri:
- Purchases or attempts to purchase any intoxicating liquor
- Has any intoxicating liquor in his or her possession.
- Is in an visible intoxicated condition.
- Has a detectable blood alcohol content of more than two-hundredths of one percent or more.
It is important to note that in Missouri, there is an exception to the above penalties, referred to as the College Course Exemption. The exception will be applied to those students who meet the following criteria:
- Must be 18 years or older
- Must be enrolled in an accredited college or university and is a student in a culinary course that requires the student to taste (not to consume or imbibe) any beer, porter, ale, wine or other fermented beverage as part of the curriculum.
- In addition to the above criteria, the beverage must be tasted under the supervision of an authorized instructor of the college or university that is at least 21 years old.
For this Missouri minor consumption and possession of alcohol exemption to hold, the beverage in question must at all times remain in the possession and control of the authorized college instructor.
The statute also declares that, “Nothing in this subsection may be construed to allow a student under the age of twenty-one to receive any beer, ale, porter, wine, or other similar malt or fermented beverage unless the beverage is delivered as part of the student’s required curriculum and the beverage is used only for instructional purposes during classes conducted as part of the curriculum.”
For all intents and purposes, underage consumption and possession in alcohol in Missouri is absolutely illegal.
What Are The Penalties for Minor Consumption and Possession of Alcohol in Missouri?
Penalties for minor consumption and possession of alcohol in Missouri can range from mild to severe depending on the terms in which your are charged, (if you are caught drinking and driving, plus you are underage, the penalties can double or even triple) whether or not it is your first charge or you have multiple charges against you. As always, it is vital to the understanding and winning of your case that you discuss your legal obligations with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Missouri. In the meantime, it is important to have a basic understanding of information regarding penalties for minor consumption and possession penalties in Missouri:
- First time MIP offenders with no prior convictions will be charged with a maximum fine of $300 and are subject to having their drivers licenses suspended anywhere from 30 to 90 days.
- Multiple offenders will face a maximum fine of $1000, which does not include court fees and attorney fees. In addition to fines, multiple offenders are may also face jail time, and have their driving privileges revoked in accordance with Missouri’s Abuse and Lose law.
- Additionally, all offenders may be required to complete community service hours and attend an alcohol education class.
According to Section 302.525(3) of Missouri Revised Statutes, an expungement or removal of a minor consumption and possession of alcohol conviction from a permanent record is available for those persons who comply with the following:
- The conviction in question must be the first time he or she pleaded or was found guilty of a Minor in Possession.
- One year has passed from the time he or she was found guilty or the minor has reached 21 years of age.
- The convicted person must have no other alcohol related convictions or “alcohol-related enforcement contacts”.
In order to expunge a MIP conviction from your record you must make a request to the court where you pleaded or were found guilty. This request must state that you have met all legal requirements necessary for expungement eligibility. Upon receiving this application a hearing will take place in which you will need to prove to the judge that you meet all legal requirements as stated by Missouri law for expungement of a Minor in Possession conviction. Based off of the information provided on your application, your expungement hearing and your previous conviction, the Judge will either deny or approve your request.
If you are seeking expungement of an MIP, you need a criminal defense attorney in your corner. Going this alone is never a good idea and could even lead to more problems in the future.
Get Help Fighting A Minor Consumption and Possession of Alcohol Charge in Missouri
If you or a loved one are facing MIP charges or would like to expunge an MIP, it’s important to the outcome of your case and future that you discuss your legal situation with a criminal defense attorney in Missouri. While a $300 fine may not seem like a big deal, the charge that remains on your record is. If you are charged and convicted with a minor consumption and possession of alcohol charge in Missouri, you may have a difficult time being accepted into the college of your choice and/or finding a good-paying job. Due to the potentially severe outcome of a conviction, you need to discuss your options with a Missouri criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
A criminal defense attorney will also have a broader knowledge of how the court systems work in your area. Furthermore, a seasoned attorney will be aware of what local judges are more strict for these types of charges. Both of these factors, the crime itself, your criminal history and your age will all play a role in determining your future.