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A Minor in Possession (MIP) ticket is given to any individual in the United States, under the age of 21, found having possession of alcohol or under the influence of alcohol. If the police officer in charge finds enough evidence to show that the person has been drinking alcohol or is in possession of it, an MIP ticket is issued to the minor. MIP is also termed as PAULA (Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age).

What does it mean to get an MIP?

Punishments for those who are given a Minor in Possession ticket in the US can vary between states. Each state levies its own punishments and fines for an MIP. Some may let off the minor on the first count with a fine of $100-$500 dollars. The fines may be reduced or exempted if the minor convicted completes an alcohol education program or community service. In some states the fine may be accompanied by revoking the driving license for a period of a month to a maximum of one year. Subsequent offenses or persons with a pre-existent criminal record may have to pay a full fine or may even have his/her driving license revoked until the age of 21. Extreme cases may also result in imprisonment.

What are the repercussions of getting a Minor in Possession (MIP) ticket in California?

In the state of California, the law includes persons below the age of 21 who exhibit they are under the influence of alcohol and even those who are found holding a can of unopened beer.

In California, if persons under the age of 21 are caught in possession or under the influence of alcohol and charged with an MIP ticket and get convicted, the results are:

They need to pay a fine that can range between $200-$300. It usually is $250. They would also be required to pay additional charges like court fees, costs and other expenses the judge finds appropriate. This fine can however be exchanged for 24-36 hours of community service if the minor agrees and completes the service within a stipulated period of time. Any further convictions on an MIP charge could result in higher fines and stricter punishments. For example, a mandatory one-year suspension of the driving license as per the Vehicle Code Section 13202.5 if they are convicted. Since the penalty is mandatory no judge can exercise his discretion to cancel/limit/change the suspension. If the minor is not of an age to possess a license, the conviction delays their ability to attain a driving license in future by one year. If the MIP ticket is given for alcohol found in the car, the punishment and fine is more severe. Apart from the penalties stated above, it includes an imprisonment of 6 months, impounding of the vehicle for 30 days and a fine of $1000.

All these penalties are levied only when the person is convicted of the charge, either if the offender is found guilty by the jury/judge or by the offender pleading guilty. In case there is no conviction, a negotiation can be reached to avoid severe penalties of imprisonment or suspension of license.

Convictions can be avoided if the offender completes the required sanctions like attending an alcohol awareness program or doing community service and paying the fine etc. Online alcohol awareness and MIP classes are often approved by the courts and can help to fulfill your judgment.