Minor in Possession (MIP) of Alcohol Charges

Minor in possession of alcohol

North Dakota’s Minor in Possession (MIP) statute makes it illegal for someone under 21 years of age to manufacture or attempt to manufacture, purchase or attempt to purchase, possess or attempt to possess, consume, be under the influence, be in possession of, or furnish money for the purchase of alcohol, or enter an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol.

Someone found to be in violation of North Dakota’s MIP statute can be charged with MIP, an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. Oftentimes, minors charged with MIP are also charged with other crimes, such as driving under the influence. 

Exceptions to the MIP Statute

North Dakota recognizes the following exceptions to the MIP statute. 

    • Visiting a restaurant with a parent or guardian. A minor can enter a restaurant that serves alcohol if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, if the restaurant is separate from the room where the alcohol is opened or mixed, and where gross sales of food are at least equal to those of alcohol. 
    • Independent contractors. A minor may enter into an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol if the minor is working as an independent contractor for the establishment and is not involved in selling, dispensing, delivering, or consuming alcohol. 
  • Law enforcement or public officials. A minor working in law enforcement or as a public official may enter an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol during the performance of the minor’s official duties. However, the minor may not possess or consume alcohol in the performance of their duties. 
  • Training, education, or research. A minor may enter an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol as part of training, education, or research, as long as the minor is under an adult’s supervision. 
  • Religious services. Minors may consume alcohol during and as part of a religious service. 
  • Event permits. Minors may be in an area where alcohol is sold if the sale of the alcohol is in accordance with a state or local event permit. 
  • Employment. A minor between the ages of 18 and 21 may be employed in a restaurant that is licensed to sell alcohol as long as the minor is under the direct supervision of an adult. Minors may serve and collect money for alcohol but cannot mix, dispense, or consume alcohol. Minors between 18 and 21 can also work as musicians in an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol but must be under the supervision of an adult.  

Additionally, minors who contact law enforcement or emergency medical personnel to report someone else who is under 21 years of age is in need of medical assistance are also immune from prosecution. 

Common Defenses to MIP Charges

  1. Not actually alcohol. Police officers can make mistakes when attempting to identify whether a substance was alcohol. If the substance your child was accused of possessing was not alcohol, or if there are questions as to what the substance actually was, your attorney may be able to have the charge reduced or even dismissed.
  2. Exceptions to Minimum Drinking Age Laws. North Dakota recognizes various exceptions to minimum drinking age requirements. If your child falls into one of these exceptions, he or she may be able to avoid prosecution for a MIP charge. 
  3. Coercion. If your child was coerced into drinking alcohol, he or she may have a defense.
  4. Involuntary Intoxication. This defense may be available if your child’s mental capacity was affected due to involuntary intoxication, such as if they were drugged without their knowledge. 

Minors Charged with Driving Under the Influence

Minors charged with MIP often face collateral charges, such as Driving Under the Influence. A minor who is convicted of DUI (in this case with a Blood Alcohol Content of .02% or higher) faces a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

MIP Defense Lawyer in Fargo, ND

If your child has been charged with MIP in North Dakota, you need an experienced attorney on your side who knows how to effectively fight these charges. 

At Fremstad Law, criminal defense attorney Nick Thornton has extensive experience representing people who have been accused of crimes, including drug and alcohol-related offenses. Mr. Thornton will investigate your case, offer advice, and defend your child against the charges. 

Criminal defense attorney Nick Thornton will help reduce the fear and anxiety that can come when your child has been charged with a crime. He will also vigorously defend your child in court. This may involve negotiating with the prosecutor to reach a favorable plea agreement, preparing and litigating motions to suppress or motions to dismiss, or taking your case to trial. 

Learn more about our criminal defense practice and how our lawyers can help move you forward, then contact Fremstad Law today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.