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MIP arrest

Washington |

Can I really get an MIP when I'm just hanging out with a friend who has a beer? I wasn't holding any alcohol and hadn't been drinking - it was just the one beer my friend was holding.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. It IS possible to be convicted of MIP in Washington State even if you are not actually holding an alcoholic beverage at the time of your arrest. However, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you either had constructive possession of that beer, or that you exhibit signs of having recently consumed an alcoholic beverage. Therefore, in the situation described here, the State may be able to show that you also possessed the beer your friend was holding if you were in close proximity to the beer at the time of arrest, ie. you were in the same vehicle or room with him.


  2. If it was your friend's beer, as opposed to the two of you sharing it, and you had not been drinking, then you should not be prosecuted for MIP. RCW 66.44.270 (2), which can be found on the web at www.legalwa.org defines the crime as being in actual possession of liquor or:

    It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to be in a public place, or to be in a motor vehicle in a public place, while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor. For purposes of this subsection, exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor means that a person has the odor of liquor on his or her breath and either: (i) Is in possession of or close proximity to a container that has or recently had liquor in it; or (ii) by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise, exhibits that he or she is under the influence of liquor.

    If this was not your beer, and you hadn't been drinking, then you hsouldnot be convicted.


  3. I find it hard to believe that with the facts you state, you could be convicted, but an attorney reviewing your file may come up with a different opinion.


  4. As with many legal questions, it is a good start to look at the plain language of the statute you are being charged under.

    For MIP, look at RCW 66.44.270(2):

    (2)(a) It is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire any liquor. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable as provided for in chapter 9A.20 RCW.

    (b) It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to be in a public place, or to be in a motor vehicle in a public place, while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor. For purposes of this subsection, exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor means that a person has the odor of liquor on his or her breath and either: (i) Is in possession of or close proximity to a container that has or recently had liquor in it; or (ii) by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise, exhibits that he or she is under the influence of liquor. This subsection (2)(b) does not apply if the person is in the presence of a parent or guardian or has consumed or is consuming liquor under circumstances described in subsection (4) or (5) of this section.

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