Senate committee OKs Jones’ bill to make the Minor in Possession offense a civil fine

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense was approved on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“As a former sheriff, I take underage drinking seriously, but the problem now is that a student makes a mistake with a can of beer and ends up with a criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their life,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Currently, some judges are allowing this to be deferred on the first offense and some are not. This change will ensure that every young person has one chance to avoid a criminal record. With the changes to the bill made in committee, Michigan district judges are in support of this legislation.”

Under Senate Bill 332, as approved by the committee, the first MIP violation would be punishable with a civil fine of $100. The amended bill would retain the misdemeanor penalty for a second or subsequent violation. Judges would be allowed to enhance the punishment if the offender had a previous alcohol-related offense.

“The governor recently outlined criminal justice reforms to reduce the cost of our legal and prison systems by being smarter and more efficient with our laws,” Jones said. “The current Minor in Possession law is clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and giving young people a criminal record that can hurt their ability to get into college or get a job. This reform is an example of smarter justice.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.