Approved Changes in Michigan's Minor in Possession Law
UPDATE: In December, 2016, Senate Bill 0332 was approved by the Michigan Legislature and signed into law on December 21, 2016 by Governor Snyder.
In May 2015, Senator Rick Jones introduced Senate Bill 0332, which would amend the current Michigan Minor in Possession Law. Senate Bill 0332 proposes to shift the penalty for a minor, under 21 years of age, who "purchase[s] or attempt[s] to purchase alcoholic liquor, consume[s] or attempt[s] to consume alcoholic liquor, possess[es] or attempt[s] to possess alcoholic liquor, or ha[s] any bodily alcohol content," from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, for their first offense. The civil infraction would carry a maximum fine of $100.00, and could potentially require the minor to participate in substance use services, perform community service, and/or undergo substance abuse screenings and treatment. A second offense would result in a misdemeanor, as under current law, with substance use services, community service, or treatment available per court order, and up to 30 days in jail if probation is violated. If a minor is convicted twice, they would receive a misdemeanor penalty with a maximum of 60 days in jail, if probation was violated, a fine of $500, or both. Currently, a minor found in possession of alcohol, for a first offense, is subject to up to a $100 fine, and could be ordered to participate in, substance abuse prevention services, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, screening, and assessment, at the minor's own expense. A second violation could result in imprisonment for no more than 30 days, if the minor has violated probation, or failed to complete treatment, screening, or community service.
The major distinction between the proposed legislation and the current statute would be the designation of a civil infraction as opposed to a misdemeanor for a first offense. A civil infraction is a minor violation that generally results in a fine, and no criminal record. A misdemeanor shows up on an individual's criminal record, and may need to be reported in the course of applying for college, graduate school, employment, federal loans, etc. The designation, of a minor in possession violation, as a civil infraction would largely benefit students applying for college, student loans, and future employment. Senate Bill No. 0332 was ratified and passed the Senate on March 3, 2016. The Bill has since been passed on to the House, and as of September 13, 2016, is awaiting a floor vote.
Also affecting minor in possession violations, Senate Bill 0333 has proposed to eliminate the mandatory suspension of a person's license based on one prior misdemeanor Minor in Possession conviction. As the law stands, the Secretary of State must suspend the license of a person who has been convicted of more than one Minor in Possession charge, for 90 days. This mandatory suspension applies even in instances where the convicted individual was not driving during either of the offenses. If an individual has two or more prior Minor in Possession convictions, and are convicted again, their license must be suspended for one year. A restricted license is discretionary after 30 and 60 days, respectively. Under Senate Bill 0333, an individual who was found responsible for a civil infraction Minor in Possession violation and a misdemeanor Minor in Possession violation, would not be subjected to a mandatory license suspension. Senate Bill 0333 was introduced at the same time as Senate Bill 0332, and the two bills would congruently go into effect.