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Providing Liquor to Minors:

Purchasing or providing liquor to minors can carry fines up to $500 and possible jail time. That includes minors who provide alcohol to other minors. Adults hosting minors under the age of 18 who consume alcoholic beverages will now be charged with a misdemeanor which in many states can carry a minimum fine of $200 and a maximum fine of $1,000.00. A Class B misdemeanor also subjects the adults to 6 months in jail.

Taking diversion or getting convicted of an offense like Minor in Possession or Providing Liquor to Minors may make it difficult, or impossible, to obtain diversion for a DUI or other offense later in life as these crimes may be considered prior contacts with the law for alcohol related offenses.

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It has been against the law for persons under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol for many years. The pressure has increased on Legislature to stiffen the penalties for underage drinking and to thoses who are caught providing liquor to minors. Undercover officers have been sent to high school sporting or social events just to see if they can overhear kids discussing the location of parties.

The officers also roam the streets looking for houses which have a large number of cars parked outside of them. Officers will then attempt to look through the windows of the home to see if there are what appear to be minors consuming alcohol. If so, the officers will attempt to gain entry into the home and round up all occupants. Often, each person will be taken to another location in the home so that they can be questioned and asked to submit to a breath test. Police officers outside the party house will also set up roadblocks to stop cars attempting to leave the location or chase people that try to run away.

There is no doubt that teens and alcohol can be a dangerous and deadly combination. An overwhelming number of juvenile crimes and suicides involve underage drinking. However, there are many who have criticized this extraordinary emphasis on stopping underage drinking on behalf of the police. Many feel it's not right for police officers to be snooping around outside of houses and peering in the windows.

The rounding up of everybody in a home, regardless of whether the individual has been drinking or not, and refusing to allow anyone to leave qualifies as a detention under the Fourth Amendment. Once detained, the individuals have the right to talk to an attorney before any questioning by officers.

However, the suspected underage drinkers are often not read their Miranda rights before officers begin to question them about whether they have been drinking.

IF YOU ADMIT TO DRINKING ALCOHOL AND/OR TEST POSITIVE ON A P.B.T., you will probably get a ticket for Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption. You may also get such a ticket if you have the odor of alcohol on your breath or otherwise appear drunk. If you have alcohol on or near your person, or in your car, you will be cited. In fact, if you are just in the vicinity of alcohol you could get a ticket.

Guilt by association is probably more prevalent in the area of M.I.P. enforcement than any other area of the law, excepting possibly possession of marijuana.

If you would like to avoid getting a ticket for Minor in Possession/Consumption the first line of defense is to not drink alcohol or hang around people who are drinking until you are 21. If you make the mistake of drinking underage you should be aware that there is no requirement that you waive your right to remain silent and answer the officer's questions.

You may refuse to talk and request that you be allowed to speak to an attorney or a parent before questioning. There is also no requirement that you submit to a P.B.T. You cannot currently be charged with any crime for refusing the test. Unless you are found with alcohol containers in your possession, it will be very hard to justify charging you, much less to convict you, without your confession or a breath test.

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