Underage Drinking: Minor in Possession of Alcohol

Underage Drinking

I’m Don Pumphrey Jr. for the Pumphrey Law Firm.

A question was posed that if you’re a student at Florida State University, and you’re underage, and you’re in possession of an alcoholic beverage.  First point – don’t do it.  Don’t be in possession of an alcoholic beverage at any time if you’re under the age of 21 because it is illegal.  Now you’re gonna hear from a lot of students that if you get a first-time minor in possession, you’re gonna get simple diversion and that’s true but not in all circumstances and many people don’t understand that in diversion they have you sign a form where you admit that you committed a criminal offense and even though the fact that they do an MIP and they do diversion and they quote-unquote drop the charges, what they don’t tell you is that those records still exist and you’re going to be required to disclose those records unless you go through a process called “Seal and Expunge”.

But let’s go back to the underage student who has had a lapse in judgment and has possession of an alcoholic beverage – maybe in a cup without any markings, maybe a beer can in a koozie – all bad unless you’re over the age or of the age of 21 don’t be in possession of alcoholic beverages.  However if you find yourself or you know a friend that finds themselves with you in this situation, here’s what you do.  You be respectful.  The case law actually says if you try to pour it out or do anything to discard or set down or hide the item that it actually can be used against you later if any issues were to come up or you were to be denied diversion and you had to go into litigation in a criminal court here in Leon County.  So rule of thumb, always be polite, always be respectful, but ask the officer – why you’re being stopped?  Ask them whether or not they are ordering you, a lawful order but nevertheless an order, to give your identification or any information.  These are questions that if asked respectfully they can be very successful because if the officer says “I’m ordering you to give me your driver’s license right now” then you have to follow an order, because they have badges and guns and they have a job to do.  But you always can ask the question, very respectfully, – Am I free to go?  Are you ordering me to give this to you and by the way I’d like to leave with my friends.  Be respectful, be kind, don’t run off, don’t do anything that would indicate any consciousness of guilt and by all means please be respectful of law enforcement officers.  They have a job to do but you have a job as well as a citizen in the United States – you have a right to ask questions of people in authority.  It is a fundamental right.  Ask the officer if you being ordered or if he’s just requesting it, if he’s requesting it, politely decline and walk away.

For the Pumphrey Law Firm I’m Don Pumphrey Jr. 

Be safe out there.