As the summer comes to a close, many young high schoolers will be gathering with friends for various celebrations. These "parties" often involve alcohol. Most, if not all, of the students are under age. Therefore, they are exposed to charges of Minor in Possession (MIP) if they get busted for drinking alcohol or simply holding alcohol. You can and will be charged even if you refuse to submit to a PBT (preliminary breath test). The PBT is the hand-held device that is used by the police to determine whether someone has drank alcohol. The test result, along with other indicators of consumption such as odor of alchol or a simple admission to drinking, all assist the officer's decision whether to charge the student. In most cases, the student will admit to drinking and will take the PBT test. In some cases, however, the student refuses the PBT and denies drinking. These cases are more difficult for the prosecutor to prove but the officer's observations of drinking could result in a finding of guilty if the case is taken to trial. I always review the police report and any witness statements before advising my client whether to take the case to trial or request a diversion from the prosecutor. Diversion is usually a one-year probation period that requires the student to complete an alcohol class and abstain from drinking for one year. The student is subject to random UA testing for drugs or alcohol. The MIP charge gets dismissed at the end of the one year period if the student has complied with all conditions.
Since MIP charges could result in a suspension of the student's license for 30 days, then I always caution clients about the risk of taking the case to trial. If there was a PBT test that was positive for alcohol, then the safest route will be to take the diversion program and see it through. This resolution ensures the charge gets dismissed and the student avoids a suspension of her license. Only in rare cases do I recommend taking the case to trial after carefully reviewing the evidence.