There is one piece of good news for parents of a minor charged with illegal consumption or possession of alcohol. Parents are not held liable for their child’s actions (unless, of course, the parent instigated the illegal activity, such as taking your kid to the local bar for a drink — a bad idea if ever there was one.) However, if your child does not have the means to pay the $250 to $500 fine for a minor-in-possession (MIP) conviction, or the cost of a court-ordered alcohol education program, you may find yourself reaching into your own pockets.
Moreover, your child may lose his or her driver’s license for at least three months (up to a year for repeat offenses). As any parent of teenagers knows, a non-driving teenager can magically morph Mom and Dad into a part-time taxi service in no time, especially if they need to drive their teens to that alcohol class, or to community service that the court may also mandate.
More importantly, the trauma of suddenly having the justice system thrust into your domestic life can put tremendous stress on the family. Concerned parents, who may have done everything they could to ensure a bright future for their offspring, may panic at the prospect of it all fading away under the blot of a criminal record.
Parents should recognize that an MIP arrest — especially if it happens more than once — may be an indication of a serious underlying alcohol problem that your child may be trying to hide. And if your child is charged with MIP for a third time, the charge is elevated to a Class 2 misdemeanor offense, carrying a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
There is hope, however. If your child stays out of trouble for a year following an MIP conviction, it may be possible to expunge the record and give the minor a fresh start. Be sure to consult a Denver juvenile defense attorney to help your child come through with the best possible outcome.