LANSING (WWJ) – Minors who get caught under the influence or in possession of alcohol will no longer get a smudge on their criminal records, as long as its their first offense.
Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed legislation to make a minor in possession charge a civil fine for the first offense, instead of a misdemeanor.
“This reform balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes,” Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “We will give young people one — and only one — chance to get their lives in order and avoid a criminal record.”
Under the legislation, the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content will be a civil infraction of $100.
Repeat MIP violations will remain misdemeanor offenses. A second offense will be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The penalties will increase to up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for subsequent violations.
At each time, the judge will be able to order substance abuse treatment or community service.
Jones said the reform was needed because the law was “clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job.”
“As a former sheriff, I know all about the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking, but this was always about fairness and smarter justice,” said Jones. “With this change, students who make a mistake will not end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”