Underage drinking and driving continues to be a problem nationwide. Many DUI-related vehicle accidents and fatalities involved an underage driver. Minor in possession (MIP) laws were created to increase awareness of the dangers of driving while drunk or intoxicated and to help minors get help for drug and alcohol addiction. Minor in possession is defined as the consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor.
MIP laws are strictly enforced in some states. Other states sentence offenders to probation if they agree to get help for their addition and behave. Colorado’s MIP’s laws prohibit persons under 21 to possess or consume alcohol anywhere in the state. A first offense carries a $250 fine; a second offense carries a $500 fine; and a third offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Offenders are also sentenced to community service and must undergo alcohol education, alcohol treatment or an alcohol assessment program at their own expense. In addition to a Class 2 misdemeanor charge for a third offense, there’s an additional penalty surcharge of $25. The surcharge penalty is applied toward the state’s adolescent substance abuse prevention and treatment fund.
If your teenager is facing MIP charges in Colorado, you will need an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney who not only has expertise handling DUI cases, but has a proven track record representing juvenile offenders. Your DUI attorney can explain Colorado’s MIP laws and how they apply to defendants in these types of cases. He will advise of your legal options and make sure your teen’s rights are respected and protected.
Defendants in these types of cases have a possible defenses that may result in a reduced or dismissal of charge. A minor who had his parent’s permission to consume alcohol, a minor who consumes alcohol as part of a religious ritual or a minor who consumes a substance containing alcohol that is used for medicinal purposes may be found not to be in violation of MIP laws. Your DUI defense attorney can evaluate your case to determine if your teenager has a strong enough defense to have his charges dropped or reduced.