Illegal Possession or Consumption of Ethyl Alcohol or Marijuana by an Underage Person, C.R.S. 18-13-122, is more commonly known as Minor in Possession of Alcohol, or simply MIP. The MIP statute prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol or marijuana by anyone under the age of 21 in Wheat Ridge, Aurora, and Lakewood or anywhere in Colorado.
Illegal Possession or Consumption of Ethyl Alcohol or Marijuana by an Underage Person
Unjust Laws in Colorado
I remember growing up, prior to 1971, the absurdity of the United States drafting men into military service at 18 years old, but not allow them the right to vote. This seemed very unjust to me at the time. Today, as then, it is common for laws in Colorado to define varying legal ages for different activities. The age of consent to sexual activity, medical procedures, abortions, smoking cigarettes, driving, and holding a job are all different. Being charged as an adult for underage drinking seems like a conflicted statement. Never-the-less, a 20 year old Douglas County man will be charged as an adult for possessing ethyl alcohol by an underage person if he holds a can of beer for his 21 year old college classmate. It doesn’t matter how unfair it seems, it is the law.
Marijuana Now Included in Law
The MIP statute now includes possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by those under 21. There is a huge temptation for 18 to not quite 21 year old people in Jefferson, Arapahoe, or Adams County to participate in the newly legislated freedoms. If this is you, and you partake, you are at risk of being charged with a MIP.
What Does ‘Strict Liability’ Mean?
The Minor in Possession of Alcohol statute is considered a strict liability offense. This means a prosecutor does not need to prove the defendant knew he or she was in possession, they just need to show alcohol or marijuana was consumed or was in the defendant’s possession. It seems so straight forward that many will not fight the charge. However, we encourage everyone facing charges under this statute to consult with an attorney to see if one of several exceptions might apply. A good attorney will know the exceptions, and she will also know how to negotiate with the prosecutor to see if they might grant diversion or a deferred judgment.
Parents: Protect Your Children
Parents, a criminal conviction may create unforeseen consequences to your son or daughter. After many years of working with clients accused of Illegal Possession or Consumption of Alcohol or Marijuana by an Underage Person, I recommend three things. Talk with your children about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Tell your children if they are questioned by the police, they should always be respectful and decline taking a breathalyzer test or making statements.