Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Veteran Criminal Defense Attorney / Former Prosecutor
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what our team can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Canyons Law Group - Solutions Start HereSM

Contact Us

Salt Lake Minor in Possession (MIP) - Criminal Attorney

Utah law makes it a crime for any minor to consume or possess alcohol, or to have any measurable amount of alcohol in the body as determined by a blood, breath, or urine test. This charge is often referred to as "minor in possession" or "MIP." As a misdemeanor criminal charge, it carries potential consequences including jail time, substantial fines, and a lengthy driver license suspension. As an experienced criminal defense attorney based in salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has defended thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

This page contains information on:


Elements of a Minor in Possession Charge

In most legal contexts, a person is considered to be an adult at the age of 18. For Utah's minor in possession law, a person is still considered a "minor" until reaching the age of 21. Thus, this statute's prohibitions relating to alcohol apply to any person under the age of 21.

Utah MIP (Minor in Possession of Alcohol) Attorney Salt LakeUtah's minor in possession law prohibits not only "possession" of alcohol, but also consumption of alcohol by a minor, an attempt to purchase alcohol, or solicitation of another person to purchase alcohol on behalf of the minor.

Providing alcohol to a minor (if the minor is under the age of 18) can result in charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If the "minor" is 18 or older, but still under the age of 21, the adult can be charged with the more specific charge of supplying alcohol to a minor.

If a minor is found to be in possession of alcohol in a vehicle, additional charges may be filed if the container of alcohol has been opened. Utah law makes having an open container of alcohol a crime (regardless of the age of the defendant) if the open container is found in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle.

Defending a Minor in Possession Charge in Salt Lake

Many MIP cases in Utah are based on evidence that the minor actually consumed alcohol. In cases where police have been called out to a party or other event where alcohol is suspected of being consumed, the alcohol has already been fully consumed or removed from the premises. In such cases, police may find only empty bottles or cans. To support a charge of consumption of alcohol by a minor, police may rely on admissions made by the minor, or on the results of blood, breath, or urine testing.

(Note that Fourth Amendment protections apply to bodily fluids such as blood or urine as well as to a person's breath. Without a warrant, a person may refuse to allow police to take a blood, urine, or breath sample.However, Utah's DUI laws provide consequences for refusing to submit to a chemical test for the detection of alcohol in DUI cases.)

Some Utah MIP cases, police may base their case on evidence that the minor had possession of an alcoholic product. These cases do not require any evidence that the minor consumed any of the alcohol. Mere possession is sufficient. Many of these possession cases will involve issues of constructive possession (for example, if a bottle of beer is found in the back seat of a vehicle driven by a minor). These cases can present complex evidentiary issues.

In every Utah criminal case, you have the right to a jury trial. But taking a Salt Lake MIP case to trial is only one of your options. In some cases, a motion to suppress may result in a dismissal of the charges. In other cases, successful negotiations may result in a resolution such as a plea in abeyance that may keep you out of jail and keep a conviction off your record.

Minor in Possession and Utah Driver License Suspensions

Being convicted for consuming or possessing alcohol as a minor in Utah can result in having your driver license suspended - even if the offense had no connection to driving or did not involve a vehicle. In some cases, a plea in abeyance may help avoid the suspension. The length of the suspension may also be shortened for first-time offenses if the court determines that the minor has completed an alcohol education series such as Prime for Life.

A driver license may be suspended by the Driver License Division under Utah Code 32B-4-409 even if not specifically mentioned in court. But a reduction in the length of a suspension requires specific court action.

Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal LawyerIf you are charged with MIP in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, the odds of a successful defense are increased by having an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your side. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has a record of achieving real results for his clients.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

RELATED CRIMINAL DEFENSE TOPICS

Full Text of Utah Code 32B-4-409

Following is the full text of Utah Code 32B-4-409, addressing possession, consumption, and purchase of alcohol by a minor. This is the version of the statute as amended by the legislature in 2014. Note that the text of this statute may have been amended since published on this page. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice specific to your circumstances. (Commentary is in italics.)

Subsection (1) makes general prohibitions on the possession, consumption, or purchase of alcohol by a minor, as well as having a measurable alcohol concentration in the minor's body.

(1) Unless specifically authorized by this title, it is unlawful for a minor to:
  (a) purchase an alcoholic product;
  (b) attempt to purchase an alcoholic product;
  (c) solicit another person to purchase an alcoholic product;
  (d) possess an alcoholic product;
  (e) consume an alcoholic product; or
  (f) have measurable blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration in the minor's body.

Subsection (2) prohibits misrepresentations regarding a minor's age for the purpose of obtaining alcohol.
 
(2) It is unlawful for the purpose of purchasing or otherwise obtaining an alcoholic product for a minor for:
  (a) a minor to misrepresent the minor's age; or
  (b) any other person to misrepresent the age of a minor.

Subsection (3) is somewhat redundant with the prohibitions of subsection (1), but specifically prohibits the consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor, while said minor is riding in a limousine or bus.
 
(3) It is unlawful for a minor to possess or consume an alcoholic product while riding in a limousine or chartered bus.

Subsection (4) provides sentencing provisions required by a court upon a minor's second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this section.
 
(4) If a minor is found by a court to have violated this section and the violation is the minor's second or subsequent violation of this section, the court:
  (a) shall order the minor to participate in an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501; and
  (b) may order the minor to participate in a screening as defined in Section 41-6a-501.

Subsection (5) provides rules for reducing a driver license suspension when a person is convicted of possession of alcohol by a minor but completes treatment or remained sober.

(5)  (a) When a minor who is at least 18 years old, but younger than 21 years old, is found by a court to have violated this section, except as provided in Section 32B-4-411, the court hearing the case shall suspend the minor's driving privileges under Section 53-3-219.
  (b) Notwithstanding the provision in Subsection (5)(a), the court may reduce the suspension period required under Section 53-3-219 if:
    (i) the violation is the minor's first violation of this section; and
    (ii) the minor completes an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501.
  (c) Notwithstanding the requirement in Subsection (5)(a) and in accordance with the requirements of Section 53-3-219, the court may reduce the suspension period required under Section 53-3-219 if:
    (i) the violation is the minor's second or subsequent violation of this section; and
    (ii) (A) the person is 18 years of age or older and provides a sworn statement to the court that the person has not unlawfully consumed alcohol for at least a one-year consecutive period during the suspension period imposed under Subsection (5)(a); or
      (B) the person is under 18 years of age and has the person's parent or legal guardian provide an affidavit or sworn statement to the court certifying that to the parent or legal guardian's knowledge the person has not unlawfully consumed alcohol for at least a one-year consecutive period during the suspension period imposed under Subsection (5)(a).

Subsection (6) refers to offenses involving a juvenile.

(6) When a minor who is at least 13 years old, but younger than 18 years old, is found by the court to have violated this section, Section 78A-6-606 applies to the violation.

Subsection (7) requires the Driver License Division to suspend a person's license when such suspension is ordered by the court.

(7) When a court issues an order suspending a person's driving privileges for a violation of this section, the Driver License Division shall suspend the person's license under Section 53-3-219.

Subsection (8) provides for extensions of a driver license suspension if the person is convicted or arrested for a driving offense while the person's license is already suspended.

(8) When the Department of Public Safety receives the arrest or conviction record of a person for a driving offense committed while the person's license is suspended pursuant to this section, the Department of Public Safety shall extend the suspension for an additional like period of time.

Subsection (9) provides limited religious and medical exceptions under which a minor may be permitted to consume alcohol.

(9) This section does not apply to a minor's consumption of an alcoholic product in accordance with this title:
  (a) for medicinal purposes if:
    (i) the minor is at least 18 years old; or
    (ii) the alcoholic product is furnished by:
      (A) the parent or guardian of the minor; or
      (B) the minor's health care practitioner, if the health care practitioner is authorized by law to write a prescription; or
  (b) as part of a religious organization's religious services.

Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer for MIP Charges in Salt Lake City

If you are facing prosecution for MIP or other criminal charges, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation. 


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Contact a Lawyer
** All fields are required. **
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Recent Posts
  • What to Do When Arrested for DUI What should I do if I am arrested for DUI? - Many DUI cases begin as minor traffic stops. But the consequences of a DUI conviction are much more serious than an ordinary traffic citation. If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you have specific important constitutional and statutory rights that can protect your. . . .
  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

Aggressive is good. Effective is better. The best defense strategy in any given criminal case can require in-depth analysis of the facts and a thorough understanding of applicable statutes, case law, and complex procedural and evidentiary rules. Having an experienced attorney on your side....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your Utah criminal case can be the single most important decision you make. Before hiring any lawyer, there are a number of important factors to consider. The person you select as your criminal defense attorney will be responsible to defend your case and protect your rights....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

In Utah, even a "minor" misdemeanor conviction carries the potential for jail time and significant fines. A felony conviction carries the potential of lengthy prison terms and the various consequences that come with being labeled as a convicted felon. Never plead guilty without first finding out....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. But just being charged can affect more than you may have imagined - jail, job, family, bills, rent or mortgage. It can feel like everything has gone wrong, and may you wonder if anything can go right. But facing criminal prosecution does not mean giving up hope....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.