Governor signs Jones’ Minor in Possession reform

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense.

“This reform balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “On some college campuses, students were stopped while walking home, given a breathalyzer and then charged with MIP.

“As a former sheriff, I know all about the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking, but this was always about fairness and smarter justice. With this change, students who make a mistake will not end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bills 332 and 333, now Public Acts 357 and 358 of 2016, the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content will be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

Repeat MIP violations will remain misdemeanor offenses. A second offense will be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The penalties will increase to up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for subsequent violations.

At each time, the judge will be able to order substance abuse treatment or community service.

“The problem with the old Minor in Possession law was that it was clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “Under this new law, we will give young people one — and only one — chance to get their lives in order and avoid a criminal record.”