Understanding the Minor in Possession Laws of Arizona

Having discussions early on with teenagers about alcohol consumption is one of the most preventive measures parents can take. Naturally, we want to keep our children from making bad decisions or doing things that can affect their future. With all the effort spent educating and warning teens of the consequences of drinking and getting caught, many are still bound to make this mistake.

In 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), released a report stating that 19.2% of minors between the age of 12 and 20 were drinking alcohol.

Arizona’s population in 2018 was over 6.9 million and close to 800,000 of that population consists of this young age group. If you have a minor who was recently charged with a minor in possession (MIP), get representation immediately.

Contact Killham Law Office to get started.

The Minor in Possession Law

Under ARS 4-244(9), there is a very long list of laws that apply to a minor in possession. The very basic law of ARS 4-244(9) is that “it’s unlawful… for a person under the legal drinking age to buy, receive, have in the person’s possession or consume spirituous liquor.” For minors who have acted outside the law when consuming alcohol, there could be harsh consequences.

Some of the consequences a minor could face if convicted for a minor in possession charge are:

  • Monetary fees
  • Possible jail time of up to 180 days
  • Probation for up to 3 years
  • A misdemeanor on you permanent record
  • License suspension for those under the age of 18
  • Mandatory participation in rehabilitation
  • Mandatory participation in substance abuse educational programs
  • Community service

Having an MIP on your record can also negatively impact future endeavors to get a job, apply for colleges, financial aid, scholarships, and other extra-curricular activities they may be involved in.

Exceptions to the Minor in Possession Law

The minor in possessions laws have many different rules and restrictions, however, there are some exceptions to the rules when it comes to minors consuming alcohol.

Medicinal Purposes

Believe it or not, there are exceptions for the purpose of medicinal use, but it’s not exactly what you might think. Under ARS 4-226(3)(a), minors can have alcohol for medicinal purposes if they are one of the following:

  • Drugstores selling spirituous liquors as prescription only
  • If the spiritous liquors are in confectionery candy and contain less than five percent by weight of alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol use for the intended purposes of scientific, chemical, mechanical, industrial and medicinal

To read more in-depth about these exemptions and other exemptions go here.

Religious Purposes

In addition, under ARS 4-226(4) and ARS 4-249, minors can have alcohol for religious purposes. The following apply to this exemption.

  • “The purchase, storage, distribution, service or consumption of wine in connection with the bona fide practice of a religious belief or as an integral part of a religious exercise by a church recognized by the United States internal revenue service under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code and in a manner not dangerous to public health or safety.”
  • Liquor consumption by an underage person in religious service is allowed

Under either of these exceptions, the alcohol cannot endanger the health or safety of the public. While these exceptions exist, they are rarely present in criminal cases.

Underage Possession & Possession

There are situations when a family feels that if the underage person is in possession of alcohol in their family household, it is safer and more controlled. However, this is against the law in the state of Arizona.

Possession of alcohol, while the parent is present or consents, is against the law. Possession of alcohol, while a spouse is present or gives consent, is also against the law.

All laws prohibit underaged individuals from consuming alcohol at no matter where they are or what household they are in. In the state of Arizona, Consumption of alcohol, while the parent or spouse is present or consents, is against the law.

Underage False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol

Obtaining alcohol using false identification is prohibited in the state of Arizona and may result in a minor in possession charge. If the minor is charged, he or she may have their driver’s license suspended.

Will There Be A Jury for a Minor in Possession?

There is no jury for a minor in possession. The case will be handled and litigated by a single judge. Because the defendant would receive only up to 180 days of jail time, Arizona courts don’t see any reason or significance in organizing a jury to be present.

How to Handle a Minor In Possession Case

If you have an underage individual who is being charged with a minor in possession, it’s important to get legal representation. There are a variety of defenses the experts at Killham Law Office can use to help you reverse the fate of your teenager’s mistake. The types of defense methods for the fighting a minor in possession charge include:

  • Constitutional violation
  • Statutory exceptions
  • No criminal intent
  • Alcohol belongs to another person
  • Scant smell of Alcohol
  • Out-of-court confession
  • Scant Presence

Contact Killham Law for Representation

Researching a minor in possession charge and trying to navigate this case could hurt you in the long run. Hiring a trust minor in possession lawyer in Arizona could be the difference in a brighter future for your minor.

Contact Killham Law Office at 623-239-0886.

For a FREE Consultation Call 623-239-0886

We’ll use the facts to make your case is successful.
To take the next step with your case, call us.
We’ll put you on the right track and give you the end result you deserve.

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