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Will teens no longer go to jail in Michigan for minor in possession of alcohol?


Michael Komorn

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Minor in Possession (of alcohol) was never supposed to put the minor in jail. It has been a travesty of justice for at least the past 20 years that minors and adults 18-20 were thrown in jail solely for drinking alcohol.

Even in 2004 , the law was not supposed to put minors in jail.

But judges found ways around the laws to put minors in jail for this offense.

minor-possession-2004.png

The legislature changed the MIP law, over and over again in attempts to keep minors out of jail for this offense, to no avail.

THE APPARENT PROBLEM:
Currently, it is a misdemeanor for a person under 21 years of age to consume, purchase,
or possess alcohol (or attempt to do the same) or to have any bodily alcohol content.
(“Any bodily alcohol content” is defined to mean 0.02 grams or more per 100 milliliters
of blood, per 210 liters of breath or per 67 milliliters of urine or any presence of alcohol
within a person’s body resulting from the consumption of alcoholic liquor, with the
exception of alcohol consumed as part of a generally recognized religious service or
ceremony.) The penalty for a conviction or juvenile adjudication can include a fine (up
to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent
offense), community service, substance abuse prevention or treatment and rehabilitation
services, and/or substance abuse screening and assessment (at the offender’s own
expense). Persons convicted of a repeat offense can go to jail if they violate probation
conditions.
Meant to deter underage drinking, an unfortunate and unintended result of the penalties is
that minors who believes they, or friends, are suffering a medical crisis due to alcohol
consumption is less likely to call 9-1-1 or to go to an emergency room because of the fear
of arrest and the associated penalties if convicted. Every year, teens and young adults die
from alcohol poisoning—a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical
attention.
One solution that has been proposed is to create medical amnesty by which a minor who
sought treatment or treatment for another person who had consumed too much alcohol
would be insulated from an arrest under the minor in possession (MIP) law. It is believed
that codifying the amnesty provision will encourage underage drinkers to call for medical

assistance sooner when it appears excessive drinking may have put someone at risk for
alcohol poisoning.
In a separate but related matter, district court judges have found some flaws in the
construction of the MIP statute they feel need addressing. For instance, a court may send
to jail an offender who fails to pay a court-ordered fine or who fails to complete
community service or get screened or treated for substance abuse. However, this only
applies to persons who have a prior conviction. Since first offenders are eligible to have
their case deferred and later discharged and dismissed if they meet all probation
conditions (meaning they do not have a “conviction” on their records), it may not be until
a third or subsequent offense that a judge can use the threat of jail to force compliance
with probation orders. By that time, a young person can have a well-established
substance abuse problem. Judges have requested that the language be revised to reflect
what is believed to be the true intent of the MIP law – that sanctions be based on the
number of offenses committed rather than the number of convictions.

 

The ACLU wrote up a guide for knowing your rights in relation to Minor in Possession of alcohol.

Last year, Senator Rick Jones made a bill to change the law from a misdemeanor to a Civil Infraction for 1st offense.

In my opinion this was done because someone’s Rich and Important  child got in trouble and finally this terrible law was changed for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

 

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense.

“This reform balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “On some college campuses, students were stopped while walking home, given a breathalyzer and then charged with MIP.

“As a former sheriff, I know all about the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking, but this was always about fairness and smarter justice. With this change, students who make a mistake will not end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bills 332 and 333, now Public Acts 357 and 358 of 2016, the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content will be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

Repeat MIP violations will remain misdemeanor offenses. A second offense will be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The penalties will increase to up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for subsequent violations.

At each time, the judge will be able to order substance abuse treatment or community service.

“The problem with the old Minor in Possession law was that it was clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “Under this new law, we will give young people one — and only one — chance to get their lives in order and avoid a criminal record.”

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