Arkansas Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charges and Penalties
Minor in possession (MIP) laws in Arkansas aim to curb the use and abuse of alcohol by young people. Until recently, MIP laws punished minors only if they were caught holding an alcoholic beverage or if alcohol was found in the minor’s vehicle. However, on July 27, 2011, a new law went into effect that impacts how law enforcement combats underage drinking: If you are under age 21 and an officer confirms that you have alcohol in your body, this will be considered possession and a citation will be issued.
Drinking and Possessing Alcohol
In Arkansas, it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase or possess beer, wine, or liquor. Here are the penalties for violating this law:
- You will be subject to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.
- The magistrate or judge can impose either of the following penalties:
- Require the person under age 21 to write an essay about beer, wine, or liquor
- Place the person under age 21 on probation
Arkansas Code Annotated 3-3-203
Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor
It is also illegal for any adult to purchase beer, wine, or liquor on behalf of someone under the age of 21. Any person who unknowingly sells or gives liquor to a minor will be guilty of violating state law. The penalties include:
- First offense: You will be fined not less than $200 and not more than $500.
- Second and subsequent offenses: You will be charged with committing a Class A misdemeanor crime. The penalties include up to a year in county jail and a fine of $2,500.
Arkansas Code Annotated 3-3-201
Providing Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor
It is illegal for any person to knowingly provide any alcoholic beverage to a person under the age of 21. This section does not apply to serving a family member or using wine in a religious ceremony. The penalties include:
- First offense: You will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and sentenced to 30 days in county jail and fined $500.
- Second and subsequent offenses: If you are convicted if violating this law within three years of your first conviction, you will be charged with a Class D felony. This is punishable by up to six years in state prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Selling Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor
It is unlawful for any person to sell an alcoholic beverage to a person under age 21 in exchange for money or other item of value. The penalties include:
- First offense: You will be charged with a Class D felony and face up to six years in prison and fined up to $10,000.
- Second and subsequent offenses: If you are convicted of violating this law within five years of your first conviction, you will be charged with a Class C felony. This is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from three to ten years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Arkansas Code Annotated 3-3-202
Minors Handling Alcoholic Beverages
It is unlawful for anyone under 21 to handle, sell, or transport alcoholic beverages except:
- A person employed by a licensed wholesaler or winery may handle alcoholic beverages at the place of business.
- A person 18 or older may handle or sell beer and cooking wines at a retail grocery establishment with the written consent of a parent or guardian.
- A person 19 or older may handle or sell alcoholic beverages at a licensed establishment for on-premises consumption with the written consent of a parent or guardian.
Violating this section will result in a fine of no less than $10 and no more than $100. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division can cancel, revoke or suspend the license or permit of the business.
Arkansas Code Annotated 3-3-204
To learn more about the MIP laws in Arkansas, read the Arkansas Criminal Code Statutes. If you have been cited for violating the law or charged with a crime, contact an Arkansas criminal defense lawyer for assistance.