04 Oct The Consequences of Underage Drinking
There are new stories in the media almost every day about minors finding themselves in situations where alcohol is readily available, and the peer pressure surrounding them is high. It is not uncommon for middle and high school age students to be unaware of the legal consequences of drinking underage. Not understanding these consequences, minors may allow themselves to be persuaded to take a drink; however, that drink can carry some serious legal repercussions.
Deputy Juvenile Officer, Dena Carver, MSW, LCSW, lends her expert advice and explains the consequences of a minor caught in possession of alcohol in a recent interview with Safe and Sober.
Ms. Carver explains what precisely a Juvenile Officer does,
“The goal of the Juvenile Court is the reformation of the juvenile and restoration of any harm done to the community. We work closely with the juvenile and family to provide timely services, support, and supervision to assist the juvenile in reformation. We try to look at each juvenile and family individually and work with the family’s strengths to develop goals to try and redirect the juvenile to more positive pursuits.”
Life is all about making educated decisions. With that, it is incredibly important to understand that if someone under the legal drinking age chooses to possess, consume and/or be around others who are drinking or possessing alcohol underage there can be legal consequences.
A frequent legal consequence a minor may face in regards to drinking underage is a MIP or Minor in Possession charge. This charge is considered a misdemeanor.
“Any person under the age of 21 who purchases, attempts to purchase, or has in his or her possession, any intoxicating liquor, or who is visibly in an intoxicated condition, or has a detectable blood alcohol content of more than two-hundredths of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood is guilty of a Misdemeanor…”
Yes, a misdemeanor is considered a “lesser” crime than a felony; however, there are still significant repercussions. If this behavior is repeated, the consequences can become more severe.
“Any minor (16-20 years old) who pleads guilty to or has been convicted of Minor in Possession (MIP) will have his/her driver’s license suspended for 30 days for the 1st offense, 90 days for the 2nd offense, and revoked for a year for the 3rd or subsequent offenses.”
Possessing alcohol underage is not something to encourage or take lightly because it can result in fines and even loss or suspension of one’s license.
You may be wondering how Juvenile Officers get involved with the MIP process. This is how Ms. Carver explains it,
“Law violations usually come to the Juvenile Office’s attention through a Law Enforcement report. The law enforcement agency will investigate the complaint of illegal conduct, and if they feel there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed by a juvenile, they will provide a Probable Cause Statement to the Juvenile Office… The Juvenile Officer will review the Probable Cause Statement and decide the course of action with the case.” The seriousness of every MIP case may seem, to some, to be overbearing; however, drinking underage is a crime and should not be taken lightly because it is also entirely preventable.
Every case is different, but every case still has repercussions.
Drinking underage has consequences that both parents and young people should be aware of, not a threat, but a cautionary tale of what can happen if you or someone you love decides to participate in, encourage, or surround themselves with underage drinking.