Minor in Possession of Alcohol
Everyone knows that people under the age of twenty-one years of age drink. However, that does not make it legal. If you are under 21, or your son/daughter is under 21, and caught with alcohol, you or they can and possibly will be charged with breaking the law. This charge is known as a “Minor in Possession” of alcohol.
The Georgia law against minors possessing alcohol is O.C.G.A. § 3-3-23. It states that no person under age 21 shall purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess any alcoholic beverage. There are, of course, exceptions. Inside the literature of the code, the exception is that “This law does not apply to minors possessing alcohol for medicinal purposes, religious ceremonies, or when the parent or guardian allows the underage person to consume alcohol in the home.” Also, minors are actually allowed to serve alcohol as part of their job (at a licensed establishment).
What qualifies as possession of alcohol? First there is the obvious, physically holding the alcohol in your hands or having it in your car. There is another way you can be charged with possession of alcohol. Even if you do not physically have alcohol bottles or cans on your person, you can be charged with possession for possessing the alcohol in your body.
If you have alcohol on your breath, or are showing the signs of drunkenness through movement and behavior, this can give the officer probable cause to administer a breathalyzer test and charge you with being a minor in possession of alcohol.
A first time minor in possession charge is considered a misdemeanor. If convicted of this, your license will be suspended for six months. The maximum fine a judge can choose to impose on you is 300 dollars and the maximum jail time is six months. No limited driving permit will be available. If your son or daughter is under 21, and being charged with this, it is hopeful that it is their first legal offense, therefore making them eligible for first offenders.
If you or a family member has been charged with minor in possession, it is important that you get the best legal representation possible to prevent something so trivial (that our state takes very seriously) from ruining things by giving you or them a criminal record so early in life, before the age of 21.