Hiring a DUI Lawyer for a Minor in Possession Charge in Clemson, SC
It is always difficult for parents to deal with underage drinking charges against their child. If your child faces minor in possession charges in Clemson, SC you need a DUI lawyer immediately. A MIP, or minor in possession of an alcoholic substance, is a misdemeanor charge in South Carolina. While this may not sound too serious, it can lead to hundreds of dollars in fines. Even worse, the convicted minor can spend up to thirty days in jail.
The truth, however, is that not all minor in possession charges are warranted. There are cases that exempt minors from a misdemeanor charge, even if they are found to have consumed alcohol. To ensure that you obtain excellent legal representation, you need the help of a reliable lawyer in South Carolina.
South Carolina Underage Drinking Statistics and News for Parents in Clemson, SC
Alcohol is one of the most abused substances among minors all over the US. Thus, minor in possession cases and charges are nothing new. In 2010 alone, 4,300 minors died as a result of excessive drinking according to the CDC. For the same year, there were as many as 189,000 emergency room visits by minors due to excessive drinking.
In a study published at the Human Health Services website, results are even more distressing. Among high school students (from Grade 9 to 12) in South Carolina, 18% of them confessed to drinking alcohol. What is more alarming is that these students reported drinking before they even reached the age of 13.
Furthermore, 25% of these students reported consuming at least one drink in the thirty days prior to the survey. Approximately 11% of these students in South Carolina reported consuming at least five drinks in the past thirty days.
The South Carolina DAODAS (Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services) also provides grim reports. According to them, 85 South Carolina residents die annually due to alcohol abuse. Among the youths in the state, alcohol has become a popular beverage preference. Among Grade 9 to 12 students, as many as 71% have tasted alcohol. Out of nine high school students, at least one has committed a DUI infraction within the past 30 days.
Parents, however, are not always exempt from the picture. In June 2017, Allison and Rodney Burger of Wellford, SC faced charges for allowing underage drinking in their home. Minors aged 14 and 18 participated in the session, and open bottles of liquor were on the property.
According to the CDC, legal problems are one of the consequences of underage drinking. Social problems are also common, so that these minors are also likely to figure in fights. Physical assaults, alcohol-induced car crashes, and drug abuse are also possible consequences, whether in Clemson, SC or beyond. It is also not surprising for these youths to face MIP or minor in possession charges.
A minor in possession charge can change an underage individual’s school and job prospects for the long-term. If your child is facing such charges, you will do well to consult with a DUI attorney right away.
Types of MIP Charges and Underage Drinking Laws in Clemson, SC
In South Carolina, it is illegal for anyone aged younger than 21 to consume alcohol. In the same way, a minor in possession of alcoholic beverages may face fines and possible license suspension.
If a police officer believes that a minor has consumed alcohol, he may undertake an alcohol screening test. The courts may charge an underage offender with a misdemeanor offense. The offender will have to pay as much as $200 in fines and face a 30-day imprisonment.
There are some exceptions to this state-wide rule, however. Minors who consume alcohol in their homes with the consent of their parents may not be charged with MIP. Those who taste liquor as part of a culinary school curriculum or for religious ceremonies are exempt as well.
A minor in possession of alcohol need not be intoxicated for him or her to face misdemeanor charges. The simple purchase of alcohol or even a simple attempt can serve as grounds for MIP punishment. It is also considered illegal to have open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle. This is especially prohibited for motor vehicles located or traveling through public highways.
Adults can also be implicated in underage drinking charges. South Carolina laws prohibit any adult from selling alcohol to underage buyers. The courts may sanction any offender to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 in fines. Additionally, the guilty party may face up to 30 days of jail time.
In addition to possession of alcoholic substances, minors can also face DUI charges. If they have been driving as well as underage drinking, they may face jail time, fines, and license revocation. A BAC (blood alcohol content) of .02% is usually enough for a minor to face a DUI charge. A first offense can lead to an imprisonment charge of up to 30 days and $400 in fines. A first offender may also go through a 6-month license suspension. Second DUI offenders face harsher penalties, with up to a year of jail time and fines of $2,100. This can result in license suspension for up to a year.
Underage drinking and DUI offenders can also face fake license charges, especially if they use another person’s driving license. Other possible offenses include falsifying information to obtain an ID or license. Those who lend their driver’s license or personal identification cards to minors may also face sanctions in South Carolina.
Nonetheless, there are cases where minors are wrongfully accused of underage intoxication or alcohol consumption. If charged with underage DUI or alcohol possession, don’t waste time.
Contact a DUI attorney immediately.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help with Minor in Possession Charges?
Although an MIP charge can be a serious matter, there are still many possible defenses to it. This makes the choice of a reliable and committed DUI lawyer highly crucial.
The South Carolina Children’s Code lists laws that apply to minors in possession, as well as applicable exemptions. Some of these exemptions are:
- A student aged eighteen and above has tasted an alcoholic beverage in connection to a culinary course. The tasting of liquor is acceptable as long as the student enrolled in an accredited culinary school. The liquor tasting, moreover, is strictly for instructional purposes. It is important for the liquor to be in possession of the instructor, and not by the student/minor.
- Law enforcement recruits the minor to verify whether an establishment is complying with underage drinking laws. This is to make the law enforcement operations more convincing. In this case, the agency’s strict supervision and parental consent are both required.The underage drinker has imbibed the alcohol drink in his own home, under the supervision of his/her parents. However, if the minor has committed a serious infraction, such as DUI, the parents may be held liable.
- The minor has consumed liquor or alcohol for the purpose of a religious ceremony. If there is no illegality as to the acquisition of the alcohol, complications need not arise.
Committed DUI attorneys can look into these possible defenses against a minor in possession charge. Additionally, they can work in proving that there was no alcohol beverage in any apprehended container. Since the burden of proof rests on the defendant, the help of a reliable lawyer is vital.
Some of the essential qualities to look for in a DUI lawyer are the following:
Sufficient knowledge of state laws.
Different states operate different laws on underage drinking. While some states will treat a minor in possession offense as misdemeanor, other states may not be too forgiving. Laws may update over time, and some exemptions may no longer currently apply. Thus, you will need a legal counsel who fully and clearly understands specific state laws and exemptions.
Research skills and resources.
Your DUI attorney should scratch beneath the surface and see whether some illegalities have occurred during the arrest. For example, lawyers may review breathalyzer tests to see whether authorities have followed protocols. They may access resources that allow for the compilation of evidence and eyewitness accounts.
Courtroom experience and presence.
If it is necessary to bring your case to court, your lawyer should come up with a good defense. More than this, they must have sufficient experience in courtroom arguments and action. It is important to remember that a conviction will not only land you or your child in jail. It can also affect your prospects for college funding, scholarships, and even internships and jobs. Your lawyer must be ready to go to court battle in your defense.
DUI Attorney or a Public Defender in Clemson, SC: Which One Should You Choose?
An underage drinking charge in South Carolina or anywhere can lead you to two legal defense options. These options are either to hire a public defender or to go for a private DUI attorney.
Both choices come with their own benefits and disadvantages, especially when dealing with an MIP charge.
Many people who have no resources to pay for a private lawyer may opt for a public defender. A public defender is a court-appointed lawyer who will be representing you. These attorneys have experience in handling a variety of criminal cases. This is one of their clear advantages. If you go for a public defender, you will most likely deal with an experienced lawyer. This will be especially helpful for an underage drinking charge.
Another huge plus in hiring a public defender for a minor in possession case is its cost. In truth, there is no cost. Hiring a public defender as your DUI lawyer will not set you back in terms of legal fees.
However, the fact that anyone can hire public defenders for free means that they often handle numerous cases. In fact, they handle numerous cases at the same time. This can prove detrimental for your minor in possession defense. Ultimately, what you need is a lawyer who can craft a clear course of action for your defense.
Compared to public defenders, the services of a private DUI attorney can be expensive. In fact, legal fees may be higher as the case elevates to the courts. However, you will be paying for the time, commitment, and expertise of a trustworthy legal counsel. When you have a DUI lawyer working unceasingly on your case, you face the possibility of a better outcome.
It also helps that a private lawyer will have had specific prior experience involving minors and alcohol. DUI cases typically will include both administrative and criminal court proceedings. However, most public defenders represent for criminal cases. When you go for a private attorney, you can hand over the administrative and criminal concerns of your case.
A public defender may not be available to stand in for you in court. A private attorney, on the other hand, can appear on your behalf. If you prefer not to make a routine court appearance, your lawyer can do it for you.
For a Reliable Minor in Possession Defense in South Carolina, Work with a DUI Lawyer at the Bateman Firm
Whether you’re a minor or the parent of one arrested for underage drinking, you need a reliable DUI attorney. The truth is that there are many possible defenses to charges of minor in possession in Clemson, SC. The most important thing is to find a lawyer you can trust.
An MIP conviction can easily cost anyone a lot of opportunities, from college acceptance to scholarships and job prospects. Don’t let this happen to you or to someone you love. To seek the help of a DUI lawyer in South Carolina, talk to us at the Bateman Firm today.