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Minor in Possession of Alcohol

A charge of Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, also known as an MIP, is a Class “C” misdemeanor in Texas. The charge means that a minor, who in this case is a person under the age of 21, was given a citation for being illegally in possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage. The principal issue in most MIP cases, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, is whether you were in possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage.

In 2008, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) issued more than 750 citations in Travis County for zero tolerance law violations, including misrepresentation of age and minor in possession of alcoholic beverages.

Attorney for Minor in Possession Charges in Austin, TX

Attorney Kevin Bennett will work with you from the very beginning of your MIP case to help build a solid defense, put your case in the best light, and will work with dedication to help set your case apart from others. Obtaining great results for young clients and helping them keep a clean criminal record is extremely important to Mr. Bennett.

If you have been ticketed or cited for MIP in Austin, Texas, then contact Austin MIP lawyer Kevin Bennett. He can help you with all aspects of your case, including the expunction of the record for an alcohol offense. Call (512) 476-4626 today to set up a free consultation.


Minor in Possession of Alcohol Information


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Texas Minor in Possession of Alcohol Law

TEXAS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CODE §106.05. 
POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR. 

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b) of this section, a minor commits an offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage. 

(b) A minor may possess an alcoholic beverage: 

(1) while in the course and scope of the minor's employment if the minor is an employee of a licensee or permittee and the employment is not prohibited by this code; 

(2) if the minor is in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court; or 

(3) if the minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the provisions of this code. 

(c) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.


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Defenses to Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Austin

Texas law recognizes several affirmative defenses or exceptions to the general rule of prohibiting minors from possessing an alcoholic beverage. The circumstances that allow a minor to possess alcohol without fear of prosecution can include:

  • If the minor is required to possess alcohol in the course and scope of their lawful employment and they are an employee of a licensee or permittee, e.g. a restaurant or bar;
  • If the minor is in the visible presence of their adult (over the age of 21) parent, guardian, spouse or other adult that is legally responsible for the minor; or
  • If the minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the law. An example of this is if the minor assisted law enforcement in a sting operation.
  • If the minor requested emergency medical assistance for themselves or someone else with a possible alcohol overdose. To qualify for this exception, the minor must have been the first person to call for help, remain on the scene until medical help arrived and cooperated with medical and/or law enforcement personnel.

If none of the above circumstances apply in your case, it is important to understand that there are additional defenses to MIP. The central issue in a MIP case is whether the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a minor was in possession of the alcohol. Possession has distinct legal meaning under the law and can mean actual possession or constructive possession.


Actual vs. Constructive Possession of Alcohol by a Minor in Texas

Under Texas law, the term "actual possession" is when you have physical possession of the alcohol on your person. The most common examples of the actual possession of alcohol include:

  • Holding a cup of beer in your hand
  • A liquor bottle in your purse
  • A flask of liquor in your pocket

Constructive possession is much harder for the prosecution to prove. The constructive possession of an alcoholic beverage usually occurs when the alcohol is readily accessible to the minor, but was not physically possessed. Constructive possession requires that the minor was aware that the alcohol was present, they had the ability to take possession of the alcohol and that the minor had the intent to take actual possession of the alcohol.

Examples of constructive possession can include:

  • Driving or riding in a motor vehicle where an alcoholic beverage was present
  • A minor at a party where alcohol was present, even if they were not drinking     
  • Sitting at a table where a pitcher of beer was present, even if the minor was not  holding the beer

The issue of whether a minor actually or constructively possessed alcohol can have a major impact in an MIP case. Whatever the circumstances of you or your child's MIP charge in Austin, an experienced Travis County criminal defense lawyer can explain all of your options and fight to have the case reduced or dismissed.


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Penalties for MIP in Texas

The penalties for minor in possession of alcohol (MIP) in Texas are serious and can negatively impact you or your child’s future. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.071, possession of alcohol by a minor is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas and is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

A first conviction for MIP in Austin also carries eight to 12 hours of community service, a mandatory alcohol awareness course approved by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and a 30-day driver's license suspension.

If a minor has 2 or more prior convictions, the MIP charge can be enhanced to a Class B Misdemeanor, in which can result in a fine of not less than $250 or more than $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, a six-month driver's license suspension and between 20-40 hours of community service. If the minor has a previous conviction under the code, the court may require them to attend the course. A prior order of deferred disposition under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is considered a conviction.


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Additional Consequences of a MIP Charge

Kevin Bennett is an MIP lawyer in Austin that understands how a conviction for a misdemeanor charge such as minor in possession of alcohol can hurt both your immediate and long-term future. Having a conviction for being a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage on your criminal record can affect college or graduate school applications, scholarships and future employment opportunities.

An experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer can fight to have your MIP charges dismissed and can help protect your future opportunities. 


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Ticket for MIP in Texas

If you are under 21 years of age and found in possession of alcohol you can be issued an MIP ticket and with charged Minor in Possession. The fine for an MIP ticket can be up to $500. However, the fine for an MIP ticket is rarely the most serious penalty a minor faces.  

An MIP charge can have serious consequences to a person’s record if not defended properly. Tickets like this can cause a person to lose out on job opportunities, education opportunities and many other future opportunities.

If you have received an MIP ticket in Austin, Texas, it is in your best interest to consult with a lawyer to discuss your options. Many minors make the mistake of trying to handle an MIP case themselves. This decision rarely works out well and often leads to a conviction, driver’s license suspension and a criminal record. 


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Expunging Minor in Possession (MIP) Charge in Texas

If your minor in possession (MIP) charge has been dismissed or if you successfully complete deferred disposition, the next step you should take is to have the case records destroyed through the process of expungement or expunction. The last thing you want after graduating college or when applying for a job is to have to explain a criminal charge, even an MIP.

Kevin Bennett has helped numerous individuals, including many students in Austin get their minor in possession of alcohol case dismissed and then expunged. Contact an experienced expungement and record sealing lawyer in Austin, Tx at the Law Office of Kevin Bennett to discuss your eligibility as well as the process to seal or expunge your criminal record. 


Additional Resources

Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force - The mission of the UDPP task force is to educate the public on the dangers of underage drinking and why it is illegal. The task force in Travis County, TX, is comprised of the Travis County Sheriff's Office,  the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), local law enforcement agencies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), TxDOT, APD and local school districts, local colleges and universities, and health care providers. 


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Kevin Bennett | Minor in Possession of Alcohol Attorney

If you have charged or ticketed with Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) in Austin or Travis County, don’t take the conviction by paying the fine or pleading guilty. A MIP ticket may not seem like a serious criminal charge, but an MIP or other alcohol offense can limit your future opportunities. An MIP on your criminal record can also hurt your chances of getting into graduate school, medical school or law school.

Contact an MIP attorney in Austin, TX, at The Law Office of Kevin Bennett to discuss your options. As a criminal defense attorney, Kevin Bennett will fight your MIP charge or other underage alcohol crime to help avoid a permanent criminal record. 

The consequences of a conviction for minor in consumption or possession of alcohol are serious. An attorney can help you resolve the MIP case deferred adjudication or even get the charges dismissed completely. The attorney can help you get the MIP off your record at the end of the case.

Kevin Bennett also represents young people charged with being in possession of alcohol and other crimes charged against high school and college students for alcohol offenses such as public intoxication, disorderly conduct, mispresentation of age by a minor, possession of a fake ID, minor in consumption of alcohol or possession of a fictitious driver's license.

Let Kevin Bennett put his experience to work for you. Call (512) 476-4626.


This article was last updated on Friday, September 15, 2017.