Jones’ Minor in Possession reform on its way to governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“I saw the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking when I was Eaton County sheriff,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This is about fairness and smarter justice. It balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes. After the governor signs this reform into law, students who make a mistake will not end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bill 332 the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content would be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

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

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

“The state’s current Minor in Possession law is 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. “With this reform, Michigan will be giving every young person one — and only one — chance to get their life in order and avoid a criminal record.”

SB 332 was approved on Tuesday by the Michigan House of Representatives. The Senate is expected to concur with technical changes soon and send the measure to the governor.