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Minor in Possession Charges

Ms. Odama has an extensive history of successfully defending persons charged with Minor in Possession.  Ms. Odama knows that in addition to criminal penalties, there are extensive civil penalties imposed by the Department of Licensing (DOL) that will affect one’s driver’s license.

In Washington, Minor in Possession means that a minor (a person under the age of 21) may not buy (or attempt to buy), possess, or consume alcohol.  See RCW 66.44.270 (2)(a).  Minor in Consumption means it is unlawful for a minor to be intoxicated in a public place while exhibiting the effects of having consumed alcohol.  “Exhibiting the effects” of alcohol can be proven by having the odor of intoxicants on one’s breath, and either (i) being in close proximity to a liquor container, or (ii) by appearing to exhibit the effects of being under the influence of liquor. See RCW 66.44.270 (2)(b)(i) and (ii).  This statute, entitled “Furnishing Liquor to Minors” also punishes adults who sells, provides, or gives alcohol to minors.

Minor in Possession is a gross misdemeanor punishable up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.  If convicted, up to two years of probation may be imposed.  During this probationary time, it is typical for a court to impose such conditions as no criminal law violations, a chemical dependency evaluation and follow up treatment as required, court fines, fees, etc.

As mentioned above, there are significant Department of Licensing (DOL) penalties that will be imposed –even without a criminal conviction.  For example, signing a diversion agreement is enough to trigger licensing consequences.  To the DOL, a minor is anyone under age 18.

  • If a minor is convicted of MIP or signs a diversion agreement, the minor’s driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year or until the 17th birthday – whichever is longer.
  • For a second offense, a minor will lose his license for two years or until his/her 18th birthday –whichever is longer.

There are options for early reinstatement of a minor’s driver’s license through an administrative review with the DOL.

Ms. Odama has successfully defended many MIP charges and is familiar with the different defenses available for this type of case.  It is a viable defense:

  • If a parent or guardian supplies alcohol and parent or guardian is present when the liquor is consumed;
  • If alcohol is given for medicinal purposes
  • If alcohol is part of a religious ceremony and the amount consumed is the minimal amount necessary for the religious service.

See RCW 66.44.270(3),(4), and (5).  Let an experienced attorney defend your case.