MIP Charge and other ways college students get in trouble

beer pongThere are a number of colleges and universities in Columbia and its neighboring areas that draw thousands of students to the area each year. With the numerous collegiate sporting events and social gatherings, it's not surprising that the potential for legal trouble is high. Unfortunately, it's not unusual for young people in the Midlands area to find themselves dealing with situations that can involve disorderly conduct, underage drinking, DUI, marijuana possession, other drug crimes, theft, sex crimes, and even violent crimes.

No one sets out with the intention of becoming entangled in legal problems, but it's not difficult to find yourself getting sucked into a compromising position or winding up in the wrong place at the wrong time. For more than 28 years, Columbia criminal defense attorney, David Tarr, has provided knowledgeable assistance to young people who’ve become unexpectedly enmeshed in a criminal case. David Tarr has a track record of successfully minimizing the negative repercussions students face when charged with a crime.

Understanding 'Minor in Possession' MIP Charges

Under-age drinking laws and other associated laws are designed to punish those who drink under the age of 21. They are also used to convict those who provide alcohol to minors. There are also related laws which deal with the creation and use of fake ID.

The punishment for underage drinking will vary, depending on the age of the minor and whether they were found to be intoxicated (by the legal definition) at the time of their arrest.

The penalty for underage drinking could be a fine, suspension of your driving license, a requirement to take part in an alcohol education program or to do community service.

Alcohol laws vary by state. You should not assume that the law of your home state applies during your time in South Carolina.

South Carolina MIP Laws

MIP charges are a misdemeanor. These laws apply if a person under 21:

  • Buys, or attempts to buy alcohol
  • Consumes alcohol
  • Knowingly uses false information to obtain alcohol

The consequences of MIP charges are, a fine between $100 and $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both, as decided by the judge. Violators are also required to complete an approved alcohol prevention education program, which they may also have to pay for.

Exceptions to the drinking age

You might be surprised to learn that there are some exceptions to these laws, which are:

At Work

Minors can work in bars or restaurants, and serve or clear alcoholic beverages. However, they cannot mix them, or work as a bartender. If you work as a delivery driver, you can deliver alcohol in unopened containers. Store workers can sell alcohol in unopened containers.

In Education

If you are enrolled in a culinary program, your instructor is permitted to let you taste, but not consume alcohol. However, it can only be done as part of the curriculum and the alcohol must remain in control of the adult at all times.

The Police

Law enforcement will occasionally recruit minors to purchase, but not consume, alcohol as they carry out compliance checks on retailers. You must be recruited and authorized by law enforcement.

Religious Ceremonies

As long as an adult legally purchased the alcohol, a minor may consume it as part of a religious ceremony. The adult will not be convicted of providing alcohol to a minor under these circumstances.

young people drinking beer

You don't have to be drinking to be charged with MIP

​​​The number one drug for use and abuse in the USA is alcohol. Unfortunately, this statistic includes young people. It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, and doing so could lead to a minor in possession charge - just one of the ways college students find themselves in trouble.

Attempting to buy alcohol, or asking someone else to do so for you could lead to an underage drinking arrest. Adults who buy on your behalf or sales assistants who sell to you can also be arrested.

That arrest could then go on to impact your student loans, your place at college and prevent you from getting work once you graduate.

For many college students, getting ticketed or arrested for MIP is often a story of wrong place, wrong time. Maybe you weren't even drinking when you were ticketed. You're at a party and someone hands you a cup containing alcohol asking you to hold it for a moment. A split second later, the police show up. If you're holding a cup with alcohol in it, they can write you the ticket regardless of whether you’ve been drinking. These cases are the definition of unfair.

Consequences of Underage DUI Charges

A choice to get behind the wheel after you've been drinking isn't exactly your finest hour. Anyone charged with driving under the influence or while intoxicated has a lot on the line pending a positive disposition of their case. Students aren't just anyone, though. Not only do you face the severe DUI penalties that everyone else deals with when charged, but the possibility of expulsion from school or losing your financial aid accompanies an arrest for DUI.

Advice on MIP Charges, and other legal questions

Regardless of the severity of charges and penalties you're facing, David Tarr can offer you the benefit of experienced criminal defense and the know-how to limit the penalties, regardless of the crime you're charged with.

​David Tarr defends students attending colleges and universities throughout the Midlands area, including:

  • The University of South Carolina
  • Midlands Technical College
  • Allen University
  • Benedict College
  • Newberry College
  • South Carolina State University
  • Claflin University.

​If you're a young person, or the parent of a young person, charged with a criminal offense, you should contact an attorney experienced with juvenile offenders for advice.