Spring break, for young individuals, means time for great fun and great fun can mean skipping out of town to a perfect vacation retreat. A long drive to another state with friends can really be exciting; however, before hitting the road towards your chosen destination, it may be necessary to first get to know the specific laws of that state, especially its laws on driving, DUI, and possession of alcohol or illegal drugs, which young vacationists sometimes use recklessly.
States may differ in treating or in punishing illegal acts, like DUI or minor in possession (MIP) of alcohol but, definitely, what is considered a crime in one state remains to be a crime in another. And, if caught committing an illegal act in the state visited, it is that state’s law to be applied rather than the state where the violator resides.
Living with a criminal record, regardless of how serious the crime is, is a huge hindrance to life’s opportunities and pursuit of one’s dreams. A conviction, especially, will have serious consequences on every aspect of life; it can result to loss of job, denied employment applications, difficulty in finding an apartment to live in, as well as in applying for professional licenses. This is because employers, landlords and license providers always ask about possible criminal convictions.
One serious offense vacationing youths often commit is Possession of Alcohol under the Legal Age (PAULA), or Minor in Possession (MIP). In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, a federal mandate, was passed. This law strictly prohibits the possession and purchase of alcoholic beverages in public by individuals under the age of 21, except under certain circumstances
Punishment for violators of PAULA or MIP differs from one state to another. For first time offenders fines may range from $100 to $200. Repeat offenders can suffer fines, besides participation in an alcohol education program or ordered by the court to render community service. Other states also apply a suspension on the offender’s driving privileges.
PAULA or MIP may only be a misdemeanor, but if it sticks on one’s records, it will surely affect a violator’s future life. Hoping to be acquitted from the charge, or in the event of a conviction, working to have such conviction expunged from your record, can be possible, but only with the help of a well-seasoned lawyer who will be determined to fight for your defense, as well as care for your future as much as you do.
According to a Destin criminal defense lawyer, “Since the legal drinking age in Florida is 21, anyone who is younger than 21 and deemed to be in possession of alcohol in the Destin area may face a MIP charge. Though only a misdemeanor offense, MIP charges may lead to jail time, heavy fines, and a permanent criminal record if a conviction is achieved against a minor.”