What’s an MIP? Understanding a Minor in Possession Charge


If you heard that someone got a DWI, you’d most likely know right away that DWI stands for “Driving While Impaired” (or intoxicated), and the person charged with this crime is in a lot of trouble.

But what if you heard that someone got an MIP? You’d probably ask, “What’s an MIP?” Even though most young people have no idea what an MIP is, getting one can have negative consequences that can impact a person for the rest of their life.


What’s an MIP?

An MIP is a Minor in Possession charge. You may get one if you’re under 21 (the legal drinking age in North Carolina) and caught by a law enforcement agent trying to buy alcohol illegally or with alcohol in your possession. More specifically, there are a number of scenarios that could lead to an MIP charge:

  • Possession – You’re found in physical possession of alcohol, whether in a public place, on private property, or in a vehicle.
  • Constructive Possession – You may not be physically in possession of alcohol, but alcohol is near at hand. For example, if you’re at a table with other people who are drinking from a pitcher of beer, and cups are scattered around the table. An officer may assume you’ve been drinking the beer and issue you an MIP charge.
  • Consumption – You’re caught drinking alcohol or intoxicated.
  • Attempt to Purchase – You try to buy alcohol from a store, bar, or restaurant and are caught.
  • Misrepresentation – You use false identification or someone else’s ID to get into a bar or to purchase alcohol.


What Happens if You Get an MIP in North Carolina?

It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, try to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol in North Carolina, as outlined by state law. If you get an MIP in North Carolina, you can expect the following consequences:

  • Legal Penalties – These can range from paying fines and court costs to performing community service and/or attending mandatory alcohol education classes. In extreme cases, repeat offenders may face jail time.
  • Loss of Driver’s License – If convicted of an MIP, your conviction report will be forwarded to the Division of Motor Vehicles, and your driver’s license will be revoked, even if you weren’t in a vehicle at the time of the incident.
  • Criminal Record – An MIP is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. If you’re found guilty, the MIP charge will stay on your record indefinitely. After a certain number of years, you may be able to petition the court to have it expunged, depending on the circumstances of your conviction. In the meantime, having a criminal record can make it difficult to find work and housing or to apply for certain professional licenses.

If you’re charged with an MIP, you’ll have to go to court. The judge presiding over your case will determine whether you have to pay a fine and, if so, how much it will be.

Minors under 19 are typically charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. While they may not be charged a fine, they may have to do up to 45 days of community service. Minors who are 19 or 20 may be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $200 and up to 10 days of community service.


What if I Get Alcohol From Someone Over 21?

North Carolina has strict STU (Sale to Underage) or STM (Sale to Minors) laws. It’s illegal for any adult to sell or provide alcohol to a person under the age of 21, even if that adult is a parent or relative.

A person convicted of providing alcohol to a minor or aiding and abetting the sale of alcohol to a minor faces numerous penalties, including mandatory fines, court costs, and community service.


Where Can I Learn More?

Now that you know what an MIP is, learn more about the dangers that underage drinking pose to your wallet, your education, and your health. Besides being illegal, underage drinking is damaging to your mental and physical well-being and can lead to bigger problems (like substance use issues) later in life.

Talk with your parents or another trusted adult and make a commitment to be safe around alcohol. Visit the Talk it Out NC website today and Take the Pledge to prevent underage drinking.