Washington State's minor in possession laws

A number of states throughout the U.S. have what are referred to as "minor in possession" laws. These laws specifically pertain to drugs and alcohol that are found on minors, whether they used the substances or not.

In general, MIP laws were created to inform and educate minors about the issues and dangers that surround drinking and driving. The laws were also created to get minor children more involved in community service and to get help and treatment to those minors who need assistance with chemical dependency.

What is an MIP?

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, a juvenile can be charged with MIP if:

  • He or she is a 13- to 17-year-old who is convicted of any offense that involved a firearm, regardless of whether it was related to the use of a motor vehicle, or he or she signed a diversion agreement or was actually convicted of possession of alcohol.
  • He or she is a 13- to 20-year-old who is convicted of a drug-related offense or signs a diversion agreement.
  • He or she is under the age of 18 and is found guilty or pleads guilty to illegal possession of a firearm while in a motor vehicle and commits any offense while armed with a firearm in a vehicle that was integral to the act.

Individuals should note that if they are found guilty of MIP, their license can be revoked. However, there are appeal rights one can pursue to seek to have his or her driver's license reinstated early. In addition, a conviction for MIP can result in possible jail time and fines.

Possible defenses to MIP charges

Young people who have been charged with MIP should know that there are possible defenses to such charges. For instance, one possible defense might be that the container that the minor was caught with did not actually contain any alcohol. Another potential defense might be that the alcohol consumed was actually consumed for religious reasons as part of a religious service, such as Sabbath wine.

Those who have been charged with a violation of the MIP laws should bear in mind that knowing their rights is crucial in cases such as these. Accordingly, an individual who has been charged with MIP should seek the counsel of a capable juvenile defense lawyer who can review the case and make certain determinations regarding possible defenses based on the particulars of the case.