Senate approves Jones’ bill to make the first Minor in Possession offense a civil fine

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Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense.

“During my time as a sheriff, I saw the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My bill is about smarter justice. It balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that students who make mistakes shouldn’t end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bill 332 the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content would be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

Repeat MIP violations would remain misdemeanor offenses. A second offense would be punishable by up to 30 days and a $200 fine. The penalties would increase to up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for subsequent violations.

At each time, the judge would be able to order substance abuse treatment or community service.

“The current Minor in Possession law is clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and hurting the ability of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “This reform will ensure that every young person has one — and only one — chance to get their life in order and avoid a criminal record.”

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.