What are the consequences for the charge of minor under the influence, or minor in possession (MIP) in Wyoming?

It’s no secret that American cinema glorifies teenage drinking. More surprisingly, Ross Douthat, the conservative New York Times columnist, recently argued for lowering the drinking age to 18 years old, with the counterintuitive argument that a lower drinking age would encourage more responsible drinking.

Although popular culture acknowledges that people under 21 drink alcohol and pundits call for reconsidering the drinking age, it is against the law for minors to drink or possess alcohol in the State of Wyoming. The prohibitions are quite broad.

It is against the law for minors to:

(1) Purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol.
(2) Solicit (ask) another person to purchase alcohol for them.
(3) Possess any alcohol.
(4) Or have a measurable blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration.

See Wyoming Statute 12-6-101(b).

It’s worth emphasizing number four: Minors may not have any measurable alcohol in their system. If a minor had even a single beer and went to a baseball game, it is against the law. It doesn’t matter whether the minor had alcohol in his possession, or was intoxicated. You may ask how police would know whether the minor had alcohol in his system. Odor, a portable breath test, a witness, or a urine analysis, is likely sufficient.

The crimes of minor in possession of alcohol (MIP), or minor under the influence of alcohol are misdemeanors. The penalties are up to 6 months in jail and a $750.00 fine. Additionally, as a condition of release or the sentence, the minor may be required to get an alcohol evaluation and undergo any recommended treatment.

Now, there are certain exceptions to the law. A parent or guardian can provide the minor with alcohol, if the alcohol is consumed in the parents’ presence. For example, a parent could offer the minor a glass of wine with dinner. In certain circumstances, minors may consume alcohol for religious or medicinal purposes (think communion or old-fashioned cough medicine).

However, parents and relatives cannot furnish alcohol to a minor, with the idea that knowing where and when the minors are drinking is better than the alternative. This Wyoming woman was sentenced to 6 months in jail for providing alcohol to teenagers involved in a fatal drunk driving crash.

If you are charged with the crime of MIP or minor under the influence in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park, Pinedale, Afton or Alpine, I encourage you to get in touch. It’s your freedom and reputation on the line. I also handle these kinds of charges in Driggs and Victor, Idaho.