In the state of Colorado, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. Until this age is reached, it is illegal for an individual to consume, possess, or be in the immediate control of alcohol. If caught in possession or consuming alcohol while underage, the individual can be charged with a criminal offense. If you have recently been charged with a Minor In Possession charge, or MIP, you need to be prepared for what will happen next. If your child is a student here in Fort Collins and they are facing this charge, this information will be helpful for you as well.
WHAT THE OFFENSE WILL COST YOU
The reality is that many underage students will find themselves in situations where alcohol is present. In these scenarios, it can be easy to make a decision you later regret. This regret usually hits hard when you are actually caught with alcohol. If an officer arrives to a scene where an underage individual is in possession of alcohol, they can require that individual to take a breath test to determine if they have consumed any alcohol. Unlike a breathalyzer used to test someone over the drinking age who has been driving, this breath test is not looking for a certain Blood Alcohol Content level to be considered an offense. If the breath test shows the presence of any alcohol the underage individual can face charges.
If you are facing this charge, you likely wish to know what the penalties involved will be. This will vary depending on if you have prior convictions and upon the judge’s decision regarding your case. Some of the penalties you may face include the following:
- Monetary fines: You will be ordered to pay a fine, corresponding to the number of convictions on your record. If it is your first offense, you will pay a fine of up to $250. For second convictions you will face a fine of up to $500. Finally, for third convictions or subsequent, you will be fined up to $1,000.
- Driver’s License: As part of your conviction you may have your driver’s license suspended. For a first offense, your license can be suspended for three months, for second convictions six months, and for third or subsequent convictions one year.
- Alcohol Assessment and Evaluation: Depending on the circumstances, a judge may require you to complete an alcohol assessment and evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for a treatment program. If it is determined you need to attend a treatment program or alcohol education program, this will be required at your own expense.
- Community Service: You might be required to perform community service, as determined by the judge.
Beyond the penalties the legal system may inflict upon you, if you are attending college the university you are attending may also have additional disciplinary actions they will take. In some cases, students can be placed upon academic probation with the possibility of being suspended or expelled if future violations occur.
BUILDING A DEFENSE
If you are facing a MIP charge, or your son or daughter in Fort Collins is facing this charge, the very first thing you need to do is contact a defense attorney. Although facing this charge is less than ideal for a young person, there are things that can be done to help build a strong case. The following are a few defenses that can be built in some situations for those caught consuming alcohol underage.
- The minor who possessed or consumed the alcohol was legally on private property with the presence of a parent or legal guardian who consented to the minor’s consumption.
- The possession or consumption of alcohol took place in relation to a religious purpose as protected by the first amendment of the United States Constitution.
- The minor consumed alcohol solely due to the ingestion of a substance not intended for human ingestion.
No matter what the circumstances were surrounding the MIP charge, it is crucial you speak to a defense attorney in Fort Collins right away. Whether the charges are severe or minor, we can help you build an aggressive case to fight for your rights before trial. Talk to us today about what options exist for you or your child.