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Examining the Texas Minor In Possession of Alcohol Law

The MIP law is addressed in the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code Chapter 106, a/k/a the  Minor in Possession of Alcohol (“MIP”) Law. Let’s take a quick look at the statute and my brief explanation of each part below.

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Who is a minor?

Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code Section 106.01 tells us a “minor” is a person under 21 years old.

How does a minor commit an MIP?

A minor can be charged with possessing alcohol if he or she purchases alcohol (106.02), attempts to purchase alcohol (106.025), consumes an alcoholic beverage (106.04), or provides false information about his or her age to someone selling or serving alcohol (106.07).

How does a minor “possess” alcohol?

A minor possesses alcohol when he or she has “actual” or “constructive” possession of an alcoholic beverage. Actual possession occurs when alcohol is physically on your person, i.e. in your hand, a pocket, or a purse or backpack.

When a minor is constructively possessing alcohol is far less clear. Constructive possession usually occurs when a minor does not have alcohol on his or her person, but it is physically close by and can be easily obtained. The minor had to know the alcohol was present and had to have the intent and ability to take possession of it. Common examples include alcohol in a car or sitting out at a party.

Can a minor legally possess alcohol?

Yes. Texas law allows minors to possess alcohol legally in certain situations. These include:

  1.  jobs where a minor is required to possess alcohol, such as a waiter/waitress or bartender (106.05 (b)(1));
  2. the minor is possessing alcohol in view of an adult parent, guardian, spouse, or other adult who is legally responsible for the minor (106.05 (b)(2));
  3. the minor is being immediately supervised by a police officer engaged in enforcing the law. This usually applies to minors possessing alcohol while helping the police conduct a sting operation (106.05 (b)(3));
  4. if the minor requested emergency medical assistance for themselves or someone else who has potentially overdosed on alcohol. In this situation, the minor had to have been the first person to call for help, had to remain at the scene after calling for help, and had to cooperate fully with medical and law enforcement responders who arrived on scene. (106.05(d) (1)-(3)).

What are the punishments for an MIP Conviction?  

106.071 tells us that an MIP is a Class C Misdemeanor. A minor can be punished with a fine up to $500 for a first-time offense. If a minor has two prior convictions, the fee can be up to $2000 and 180 days in jail (106.071(c)).

Punishments also include 8-12 hours of community service for a first offense and 20-40 hours for a second offense (106.071(d)(1)). The judge may also order the offender to take an alcohol awareness class (106.115).

If the minor has an active driver’s license, the judge can suspend the license for 30 days for a first offense, up to 60 days if the minor has a previous MIP conviction, and up to 6 months if the minor has two prior MIP convictions. (106.071(d)(2)).

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