POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR
Minors are at risk of an M.I.P. citation at a party, nightclub, or while riding in a vehicle when alcohol is present. A minor can be in the proximity of alcohol which belongs to another person, but cannot touch, hold, transport, attempt to purchase, consume, or have any contact with alcohol.
Possession of an alcoholic beverage includes situations involving "constructive possession." An example of constructive possession is when a minor is in an automobile where alcohol is readily accessible to any minor passenger in that vehicle. This situation extends to alcohol which is on the car seat, floor, or stored in the trunk of an automobile in which the driver is a minor in possession of the keys which unlock the trunk.
Constructive possession may also exist when:
- a minor sits at a table with several people who are drinking from a pitcher of beer with cups scattered about;
- a minor gathers empty beer cans and cups to discard as trash;
- a minor holds a friend’s beer as the friend puts on their jacket; or
- a minor uses a beer can as a spittoon for tobacco juice.
V.T.C.A. ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CODE
106.05 Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 106.05 provides that a minor (a person under the age of 21 years) commits this offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage.
A minor may possess alcohol if he is in the visible presence of his adult (over the age of 21 years) parent, guardian, spouse, or other adult to whom he has been committed by a court.
A minor may possess alcohol while in the course and scope of his employment if he is an employee of a license or permittee and the employment is not prohibited by this code.
This offense is a Class "C" misdemeanor punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00. However, if a minor has 2 prior convictions, the punishment is a fine of not less than $250.00 or more than $2,000.00 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 6 months!
The court shall order a convicted minor to perform community service for not less than 8 or more than 12 hours. However, if he has a prior conviction, the community service is not less than 20 hours or more than 40 hours.
The court shall order the Department of Public Safety to suspend the minor’s driver’s license or permit or, if he does not have one, to deny the issuance of one for: 30 days if he has no prior convictions; 60 days if he has one prior conviction; or 6 months if he has 2 prior convictions.
For the purpose of determining whether a minor has a prior conviction, an order of deferred adjudication for a prior offense is considered a conviction!
The court shall require a convicted minor who has not been previously convicted to attend an alcohol awareness course approved by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. If he has been previously convicted, the court may require him to attend the course.
Not Guilty Pleas
If not guilty of M.I.P., enter a plea of not guilty with the court clerk on or prior to your appearance date stated on the ticket. Prepare for your defense at a bench or jury trial. Ask the court clerk to issue subpoenas for those witnesses necessary for your defense. Seek the advice of an attorney prior to trial.
If you are guilty of M.I.P., you may enter a plea of no contest or guilty and ask the court clerk for an uncontested hearing with the judge on the issue of punishment. At the hearing, introduce yourself to the judge and explain that you desire to avoid an M.I.P. conviction on your record. Therefore, you request that the court grant you Deferred Disposition.
The judge may defer further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and place you on probation for a period not to exceed 180 days. At the conclusion of the deferral period, if you present evidence that you complied with the requirements imposed by the Court, the judge shall dismiss the M.I.P. complaint and note in the docket that there is not a final conviction. However, a subsequent M.I.P. will enhanced punishment.
In most cases, the judge will grant Deferred Disposition and order six months probation, community service, attendance at an alcohol education workshop and court costs.