Starting this year, minors found in possession of alcohol will get a little more leniency under the law. The consequences defined by Michigan’s minor is possession or MIP law changed January 1st.
The first MIP offense will be a civil infraction, instead of a misdemeanor. A minor will have to pay a fine and could be sentenced to community service or to substance abuse classes. The civil infraction will appear on a person’s driving record.
The second offense remains a misdemeanor, with the possibility of 30 days in jail.
Michael Sepic, the prosecuting attorney in Berrien County, says the law will keep youth from having criminal records for one relatively minor offense.
“I think what the legislature was trying to do was prevent the negative consequences outside the criminal justice system that sometimes follow a young person a ways through life,” says Sepic.
Sepic says it will take a while to see if the law is effective.
“The jury will be out for a while to see if this relaxed penalty results in more damage,” he says.
One issue with the change that hasn’t been ironed out yet, says Sepic, is how to keep track of first offenses for minors who don’t have a driver’s license.