Georgia Minor in Possession of Alcohol Lawyer
Georgia MIP Lawyer
Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charges, also known as MIP or underage possession of alcohol, are common throughout the state of Georgia. You are susceptible to an MIP conviction regardless of whether you submitted to a breath test during the arrest procedure. If there is evidence that you consumed alcohol, even if you are not found in actual possession of alcohol, you can be charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP).
Minor in possession of alcohol is a criminal offense. You can be punished with time in jail and can have a permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. You can also lose your driver's license, even if you were not driving at the time of your arrest. None of this has to happen. Contact an experienced MIP lawyer today.
What Evidence is Sufficient to be Charged and Convicted of MIP in Georgia?
The officer only needs to testify that the odor of alcohol was present on your breath which could be enough for a charge and conviction if you are under the age of 21. A conviction for MIP lives forever on your criminal record and may have ramifications on your school record as well.
Also, an MIP conviction may lead to the suspension of your driver's license. A conviction for Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Georgia will result in a 6-month suspension of your driver's license without any permit to drive of any kind. That includes no permit to drive to work or school. The risks to your lifestyle and future are very severe.
Georgia prosecutors and judges can order you to serve jail time, community service, pay high fines and fees, probation, alcohol evaluations and treatment programs, and other sanctions including potential driver's license suspension. While a first time MIP offense is considered a misdemeanor, it should not be taken lightly.
There are Defenses and Ways to Keep the MIP off Your Record:
There are options. You do not have to face a lifetime criminal record. You do not have to lose your license. There are diversion programs. There are first offender or conditional discharge programs. There are other informal ways of dealing with these problems. Georgia Lawyers Richard Lawson and Kimberly A. Berry have more than 50 years of combined legal experience dealing with Minor in Possession of Alcohol cases throughout Georgia, Atlanta, Metro Atlanta, and North Georgia. Experience is the difference. We are the most reviewed lawyers in Georgia.
You may also be eligible for expungement, but those do not happen automatically. Act now! Let our lawyers guide you through the steps and processes that will help ensure that you receive the best possible results.
Call an experienced Georgia MIP lawyer today to make sure your rights are protected, and that measures are taken to increase your chances of dismissing the underage consumption charges to keep them off your record. Often, these cases can be resolved via pre-trial diversion or conditional discharge bargain. You do have the right, however, to a jury trial for your MIP case if you so choose.
Summary of the Georgia Minor in Possession Laws
A conviction for Minor in Possession can remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Any drug or alcohol-related offense can affect your ability to apply for college, student loans and financial aid, and even future employment. The charge can also carry severe penalties including a driver's license suspension and probation.
O.C.G.A. § 3-3-23(a) Except as otherwise authorized by law:
(1) No person knowingly, directly or through another person, shall furnish, cause to be furnished, or permit any person in such person's employ to furnish any alcoholic beverage to any person under 21 years of age;
(2) No person under 21 years of age shall purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess any alcoholic beverage;
(3) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent such person's age in any manner whatever for the purpose of obtaining illegally any alcoholic beverage;
(4) No person knowingly or intentionally shall act as an agent to purchase or acquire any alcoholic beverage for or on behalf of a person under 21 years of age; or
(5) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent his or her identity or use any false identification for the purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage.
There are exceptions to this rule. The law does not apply to the sale, purchase, or possession of alcoholic beverages when the consumption is for medical purposes according to physician's directions, at a religious ceremony, or with the consent of a parent or guardian when the possession is in the home, and the parent or guardian is present.
A law enforcement officer has the authority and discretion to either issue a citation or arrest you for minor in possession. If arrested, the arrest will be entered on your criminal history.
The maximum penalty for a minor in possession charge in Georgia is a $300 fine and six months in jail. It may be possible to negotiate a dismissal of the charge in exchange for the performance of community service, completion of a clinical evaluation or drug and alcohol class, a fine, or a combination of other potential alternatives. If the charge is dismissed, it is possible the charge can also be expunged (permanently removed) from your criminal record and avoid a license suspension.
If you are a first time offender and have never been charged with any prior alcohol or drug-related offenses, the prosecutor may decline to prosecute your case in exchange for your enrollment in a Pretrial Diversion Program, which is a supervisory program with certain requirements that you must complete in a specified time period. If you satisfactorily complete the program, your charges will be dismissed and, if negotiated as part of the agreement, the charge may be eligible for expungement off your criminal record. If you were arrested for the charge, this is beneficial because the arrest will remain on your record indefinitely if not formally expunged. Additionally, any applicable license suspension will be prevented because no conviction will be entered.
The most common requirements of a Pretrial Diversion program are payment of a program fee, probation, community service, random drug and alcohol screens, alcohol or drug awareness courses, or an alcohol or drug use risk reduction course. Some programs may even require you to write an essay.
If you fail to complete the program, the State will prosecute your case, and you may be convicted of the original minor in possession charge and face any of the possible consequences including a license suspension, if applicable.
Another alternative to the Pretrial Diversion Program is a Conditional Discharge. That permits the judge to dismiss the charge upon completion of certain conditions. Because no conviction will be entered upon a dismissal, your license will not be suspended. This type of sentencing is only available to use once and only to persons who have never previously been convicted of a drug charge.
As with the Pretrial Diversion Program, failure to complete the conditions as provided by the court, failing a drug or alcohol screen, or being convicted of a new offense may cause the court to revoke your conditional discharge status and proceed with the original charge.
If alternative sentencing is not available to you, you may face a license suspension under certain circumstances. Upon a first conviction, unless stated otherwise below, your license will be suspended for a minimum period of 6 months. A second or subsequent offense can carry a 12-month license suspension. No limited use driving permit is available during the suspension period.
If convicted of misrepresenting your age or identity or using false identification to purchase alcohol or convicted of buying an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21, you will need to submit a certificate of completion of an approved defensive driving course and a $200 fee to have your license reinstated. A nolo contendere plea will not be accepted by the Department of Driver Services and will be treated as a conviction.
If convicted of attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21, you will need to submit a $35 fee to reinstate your license. If the judge allows a plea of nolo contendere to be entered, the conviction will not be sent to the Department of Driver Services and your license will not be suspended.
If you are convicted of possession of an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21 while operating a motor vehicle, your license will be suspended for 120 days. To reinstate your license, you will need to submit a certificate of completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use/risk reduction program and a $35 fee. If the judge allows a plea of nolo contendere to be entered, the conviction will not be submitted to the Department of Driver Services and your license will not be suspended.
A conviction for possession of alcohol while under the age of 21 will not generate a license suspension. A court, however, does have the discretion and authority to issue a court-ordered license suspension; or, in the alternative, order you to complete a risk reduction program for alcohol and drug use within 120 days of the conviction, and issue a court-ordered license suspension if not completed.
If a minor in possession conviction is reported to the Department of Driver Services, even if you were not operating a motor vehicle and the conviction would not otherwise generate a license suspension, the conviction will be treated as if it were for the offense of possession of an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21 while operating a motor vehicle and your license will be suspended for 120 days. For this reason, it is incredibly important to ensure that any conviction is recorded appropriately and accurately.