Underage drinking in Texas is a complicated topic that affects more than just the underage person caught consuming alcohol. Because it is illegal for minors to purchase alcohol, attorneys point out that laws pertaining to underage drinking often extend to others associated with the underage person who has been drinking. Lawyers who handle Minor in Possession (MIP) charges recommend that everyone, particularly parents, understand Texas laws regarding underage drinking in order to make sure they are always abiding with this law.
Minor In Possession Laws
In Texas, a minor in possession (MIP) is anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 who is found possessing or consuming alcohol or is intoxicated. Minor in possession is a Class C misdemeanor, which means that a conviction becomes part of a permanent criminal record. Penalties associated with MIP include a $500 fine, 8 to 40 hours of community service, loss or denial of a driver’s license for 30 to 180 days, and a mandatory alcohol awareness class.
Adults and MIP Laws
Many people do not realize that MIP laws extend to people other than the drinking minor. Anyone who provides or sells alcohol to an underage person can be criminally charged and face harsher penalties than the minor who was apprehended consuming alcohol. Any person who provides alcohol to a minor by means of buying it for them, selling it to them, or bringing it to a party is liable and can face charges. Lawyers who handle Minor in Possession (MIP) charges caution that even in questionable cases where false ID was presented or the buyer seemed old enough, the seller or provider can be charged. The consequences of a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense of providing alcohol to a minor can include a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in the county jail.
Parents and Underage Drinking
Despite what many people think, there is no exception to the MIP law for parents who legally allow their underage children to have a drink at home when they are present. In Texas, parents are just as liable as anyone else who provides alcohol to an underage person. Attorneys warn that if a parent provides alcohol to a minor child, and he or she were to drive or commit any other crime, that parent could be held liable for the results of their child’s actions.
Zero Tolerance Policy
Texas has a zero tolerance policy regarding minors in possession and driving or operating a watercraft or other motor vehicle. This means that any underage person who has been drinking any amount of alcohol is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle or watercraft. If the minor does this and is caught, it can result in stiff penalties. Repeat offenses can lead to extended loss of driving privileges, jail time, higher fines, and other punishment.
It is important to know that in Texas, underage drinking and the sale or provision of alcohol to any underage person, is taken very seriously. Lawyers who represent those accused of Minor in Possession (MIP} charges advise that it is always illegal for anyone to provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21. Anyone dealing with a Minor in Possession charge should immediately contact experienced defense attorneys who can seek the most favorable outcome.
Gray, Granberry & Jones, Attorneys at Law
103 N. Main Street
Bryan TX 77803