What is the Crime of “Minor in Possession” in Utah
There are multiple ways to violate Utah statute 32B-4-409, which is commonly called “Minor in Possession,” and for many of them you don’t really have to possess any alcohol at all. You can be found guilty if you are under 21 and you do any of the following things in the state:
- purchase an alcoholic product;
- try to purchase an alcoholic product;
- ask another person to purchase an alcoholic product for you;
- possess an alcoholic product;
- consume an alcoholic product; or
- have alcohol in your body.
If there were a way to penalize a minor thinking really hard about alcohol, that might be a crime too.
Defenses to Minor in Possession
There are only two “affirmative” defenses to Minor in Possession, and those are when the Alcohol in question was either:
- Used for medicinal purposes
- Used as part of a religious ceremony
There’s also the old fashioned way of defending yourself, of course, which is to make the prosecution prove you actually committed the crime, or to argue that the police violated your constitutional rights while investigating you. Depending on the situation, that can be successful too.
Penalties for Minor in Possession in Utah
Violating Utah statute 32B-4-409 in any of the ways described above is a Class B misdemeanor, so the maximum penalties are $1,000 in fines and 6 months in jail. Of course, it is very rare to be sentenced to jail for anywhere near the maximum on a first offense. More likely is a sentence involving fines, probably an alcohol class, and possibly a jail sentence suspended for community service. There is also the matter of your driver’s license (see below).
Minor in Possession and your Utah Driver’s License
For some reason, Utah has mandated that minors who possess alcohol lose their license for 1 year upon conviction, even if the alcohol and the minor were nowhere near a car. There is a way to shorten this suspension period, or sometimes avoid it all together but it takes some doing.
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with Minor in Possession
If you want to try to keep your driver’s license and keep a conviction off your record, contact me to discuss your case. Initial consultations are free, so even if you are not sure you want to hire an attorney or not sure you can afford it, it certainly doesn’t hurt to discuss your options.