Earlier this week, the Dunwoody Police Department sent minors into 13 stores and gas stations across the city in an effort to reduce underage drinking and the dangers associated with it. Dunwoody Police frequently use these types of "alcohol sales compliance" checks as tools in their efforts. The minors were instructed to attempt to buy alcohol at the stores, four of which agreed to sell to the minors.
According to reports, the store clerks that sold alcohol to the underage customers received citations from the Dunwoody Police Department. Additionally, they will face penalties from the Georgia Department of Revenue, whose agents assisted with the operation.
As a Georgia D.U.I. Lawyer, I have defended charges of Minor in Possession of Alcohol for years – once a minor knows how to obtain alcohol, they become much more likely to get behind the wheel of a car and receive a D.U.I. in Georgia. In today's post, I'm going to be outlining Georgia's Minor in Possession of Alcohol law.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol, frequently referred to as "M.I.P." or underage possession of alcohol, is a common charge throughout the state of Georgia. A minor may be susceptible for receiving an M.I.P. regardless of whether they have submitted to a breath test during their arrest process. In Georgia, you can be charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol if there is evidence that you have consumed alcohol, even if you're not found to be possessing any alcohol. The officer needs only to testify that he smelled alcohol on your breath for you to be charged and convicted of an M.I.P.
The Georgia Minor in Possession law states as follows: O.C.G.A. § 3-3-23(a) Except as otherwise authorized by law:
(1) No person knowingly, directly or through another person, shall furnish, cause to be furnished, or permit any person in such person's employ to furnish any alcoholic beverage to any person under 21 years of age;
(2) No person under 21 years of age shall purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess any alcoholic beverage;
(3) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent such person's age in any manner whatever for the purpose of obtaining illegally any alcoholic beverage;
(4) No person knowingly or intentionally shall act as an agent to purchase or acquire any alcoholic beverage for or on behalf of a person under 21 years of age; or
(5) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent his or her identity or use any false identification for the purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage.
Even though a first time Minor in Possession conviction is a misdemeanor charge, it may still have serious ramifications. A judge can order you to pay high fines and fees, serve jail time or probation, community service, attend alcohol evaluations and treatment programs, and more. A conviction of M.I.P. will be on your criminal record forever and may even have effects on your school record as well. Additionally, a conviction will lead to the suspension of your driver's license for six months without any kind of permit to get to school or work.
As a Georgia D.U.I. Attorney, I know that the possibility of a minor in possession conviction seems undefeatable. However, you have options. There are diversion, first offender, and conditional discharge programs that may be applicable as well as more informal ways of handling an M.I.P. charge. You may be eligible for expungement, but that does not happen automatically. You must act quickly. If you or your child has been charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol, call our office today.