The House Criminal Justice Committee recently approved a bill to lessen the penalties for minors caught with alcohol [1]. The bill, which passed almost unanimously in the Senate this March, reduces the punishment for a first offense of minor in possession  (commonly referred to as an MIP) from a misdemeanor, which carries up to 90 days in jail and a fine, to a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine [1,2].

Under the new law, a second MIP will still be a misdemeanor, but punishable by only up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine [3]. The third offense will suspend a youth’s drivers license, which is also a penalty under the current law [3].

It is possible, under current Michigan law, for minors to keep a misdemeanor MIP conviction from their public record after successfully completing a term of probation [1]. The probation includes random drug and alcohol testing, substance abuse counseling, monthly reporting, court and probation costs and costs for testing and treatment [1].

According to the Michigan State Police more than 6,000 minors were charged with misdemeanors in 2013 [2]. State Senator Rick Jones said “[the] idea [of the bill] is to balance the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that students who make mistakes shouldn’t end up with criminal records that will follow them for the rest of their lives” [3].

The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Stay tuned to Rights First Law for more on this and other legal news.

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