Effectively Representing Minor Clients across Royal Oak
Did you know that police almost universally believe that a young person in high school or college out at night has been drinking or is about to drink alcohol? This unfair presumption makes young adults under the age of 21 a target. This page explains what a person under the age of 21 needs to know about the underage drinking offense of MIP – Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
In the state of Michigan, an offense of Minor in Possession prohibits persons under the age of 21 to not only possess but also to consume alcohol and to have any amount of alcohol in their body. The law prohibits the attempt to possess or consume alcohol by an underage person as well.
There are three primary ways that police enforce this law:
- Actual or constructive possession of alcohol – the police find you with it.
- Use of a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) to determine a BAC over 0.02%.
- Seek admission from an underage drinker that they consumed alcohol.
Actual or Constructive Possession of Alcohol
If a police officer personally witnesses a person under the age of 21 with a 6 pack of beer, for example, that is actual possession of the alcohol and there is not much more that can be argued. But what if that six pack is located in the back seat of a car with several people present? Constructive possession means that a person had knowledge of the alcohol and had the ability to take actual possession of the alcohol.
Therefore, to prove that the passenger of the vehicle had possession of the six pack located in the back seat, the police would have to prove that not only the passenger knew the beer was there but that they also had the ability to take possession of it where it was found. If the beer was in a place that was inaccessible, then constructive possession cannot be proven.
Remember, proof of knowledge of the beer located in the back seat must be proven as well. It is not enough to presume knowledge. If the passenger said, “I did not know the beer was there” and there is nothing to prove otherwise, the passenger is not guilty of MIP. The theories of actual versus constructive possession apply in all different factual circumstances like in a home or a park.