In the state of South Carolina, getting caught as a minor in possession (MIP) of alcohol is a misdemeanor offense. As a result of that classification, some people fail to take this charge as seriously as they should. Being charged with and convicted of an MIP offense can alter the course of your life.
It’s important that minors and their family members take MIP charges seriously. One of the most important things you can do if you are facing a MIP charge is to contact an experienced defense attorney to help you. Generally speaking, there is zero tolerance for underage drinking under the law in South Carolina.
The only exception to laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol by minors is religious. The laws protect those under 21 whose faith requires the consumption of alcohol during certain ceremonies from prosecution. Any other minor caught in possession of or under the influence of alcohol may face criminal charges.
Alcohol is common at many colleges
For many students, experimenting with alcohol is a major part of socializing during college. Those parties and events may not preclude those who are not yet 21 years old from drinking. Having a few beers or glasses of wine may not seem like a big deal. However, if law enforcement encounters you while you are under the influence or physically in possession of a drink, you could be facing minor in possession charges. Those charges, in turn, could affect your scholarships and your sports activities, particularly for those who are repeat offenders or who drove while under the influence.
What are the consequences for an MIP charge?
South Carolina has a graduated system for punishments related to MIP charges. First time offenders receive more leniency than those who become repeat offenders. First time MIP charges carry up to 30 days in jail, a fine of between $100 and $200 and a requirement to complete an alcohol education or intervention program. Those who are convicted or plead guilty to an MIP charge will also have their driver’s license suspended for 120 days. Second time offenders will lose their license for at least a year. Because of the increased severity of subsequent offenses, it’s important to mount a thorough defense.
An attorney can help when you’re facing an MIP
While it may be a misdemeanor offense, a MIP can affect your college career and your future. If you’re facing MIP charges, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney may be able to have your criminal charges dropped in favor of pursuing treatment and education for alcohol. An attorney can also explore other defense options, depending on the details of your situation.