While a minor in possession of alcohol charge may not seem like a serious criminal offense, it can have lasting consequences on a person’s life. A MIP conviction may not only limit your educational options, but it could also affect your employment and career prospects. Today, most employers conduct a criminal background check during the hiring process, and often will not hire someone if their record reveals a criminal conviction.
In an effort to reduce underage drinking, Missouri courts have become increasingly harsher in dealing with MIP offenders. In 2005, Missouri law enacted the new MIP “possession by consumption” law. The new MIP “possession by consumption” law expanded the old MIP law’s definition of “possession” to include “possession by consumption” and being “visibly intoxicated.” Under the new MIP law, a prosecutor no longer needs to demonstrate that an alcoholic beverage existed or that the minor was in possession of an alcoholic beverage. Now, a prosecutor only needs to demonstrate that the minor has consumed alcohol to gain a MIP conviction.
Under the new Missouri MIP law, minors (16-20 years old) who plead guilty to or are convicted of MIP will face the following punishments:
- 1st MIP Offense – Driver’s license suspended for 30 days
- 2nd MIP Offense – Driver’s license suspended for 90 days
- 3rd MIP Offense or Subsequent Offense – Driver’s license revoked for 1 year
Expungement of a MIP
The Missouri MIP law allows a minor who has pleaded guilty to or found guilty of MIP for the first time to obtain a Court ordered expungement of all official records of his or her arrest, plea, trial and conviction. The “expungement” of a MIP is the court-ordered removal of all official records of the arrest, plea, trial, and conviction relating to the MIP. The legal effect of an expungement of a MIP is to restore the person’s legal status to that he or she had before the arrest, plea, trial or conviction of MIP, as if the MIP never happened.
To obtain an expungement of a MIP, a person must meet all three of the following requirements:
- It must be the first time he or she pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of MIP
- One year has passed from the time he or she pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of MIP or the minor has reached 21 years of age
- He or she has had no other alcohol-related convictions or “alcohol-related enforcement contacts” as defined in Section 302.525(3)