26
Mar

Minor Consumption Attorney

Minnesota has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to underage consumption of alcohol. This means a minor may not consume any alcohol without facing the possibility of receiving a minor consumption ticket in Minnesota. But, you may be surprised to learn of a couple ways to combat these charges, which often get overlooked – especially if you don’t get a minor consumption attorney that understands these nuances.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the governing law: Minn. Stat. 340A.503:

  • It is unlawful for a minor (under the age of 21) to consume any alcoholic beverages.

It is also unlawful for a minor to possess an alcoholic beverage outside of their residence if they had the intent to drink it. The statute even defines when a person turns 21 – and this may surprise everyone: A person turns 21 for purposes of this statute at 8:00 a.m. on the date of their 21st birthday.

If the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor consumed any alcohol beverage, then it is a misdemeanor criminal offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. While a jail sentence may be an unlikely outcome in most cases, the mere criminal record itself for minor consumption is one that can have a long-lasting impact on the minor’s ability to find jobs, housing, or continue schooling.

A skilled minor consumption attorney in Minnesota knows, however, that there are few defenses worth exploring when developing a defense strategy. 

First, the State almost always relies upon PBT tests results to show that the minor had alcohol in his/her system. But, it’s also often the case that the PBT test was obtained in violation of the minor’s constitutional rights. A PBT test is a search that should require a warrant. To bypass this, the officer may seek the minor’s consent. But, because PBT’s are administered upon demand in a DWI context, an officer may not ask for the minor’s consent and instead demand it. If that occurs, a minor consumption attorney may be able to get the PBT test result suppressed for violating the Fourth Amendment. Without the PBT test, the State’s case becomes a lot weaker in most cases.

Second, it is an affirmative defense (meaning it defeats the State’s case) if the minor can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she consumed the alcohol at home with their parent’s/guardian’s consent. This means that the minor will very likely need witness testimony from a parent or guardian to prove this.

Third, and this often gets overlooked, a minor may have immunity from being charged if he or she calls 911 to report that someone is in need of medical assistance for an immediate health or safety concern. The caller must stay on scene, cooperate, and provide their name and contact information. The goal is to avoid minors from being afraid to call 911 in case of an emergency because they don’t want to get a minor consumption ticket. The person needing medical assistance is also immune from prosecution.

As you can see, it is important to get a skilled minor consumption attorney to help fight this case. Knowing how to build a defense and then use it to both fight and negotiate can lead to outstanding results. With so much at stake, you need a minor consumption attorney on your side right away.

 

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