Indiana Minor in Possession of Alcohol: Laws and Penalties

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Indiana has passed laws to prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming any type of alcoholic beverage -- these are "minor in possession" laws. Bartenders must be 21 or older, however servers can work in restaurants or hotels that sell alcohol if they are at least 19. Employees who work in stores that sell alcohol must be at least 18 and have a supervisor 21 or older present at all times.

Illegal Possession of Alcohol

It is illegal in Indiana for any person under the age of 21 to knowingly consume or possess an alcoholic beverage. In addition, minors are prohibited from transporting alcoholic beverages on a public highway unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who is at least 21 years or older. The individual will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor offense and the penalties include:

  •  Minors who are 18 and older may have their driver’s licenses suspended for up to one year.
  • Minors who are under age 18 will have their driver’s license suspended for at least 60 days.
  • You may be sentenced to not more than 60 days in jail.
  • You may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500.
  • The judge may order you to participate in an alcohol treatment program.

The court will forward the driver’s license suspension order to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-8-7-7

Minors Making False Age Statements to Obtain Alcohol

It is against the law for anyone under 21 to intentionally make a false statement about their age or to present a fake id for the purpose of obtaining, purchasing, or attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage. The individual will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor offense and the penalties include:

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days up to 1 year.
  • You may be sentenced to not more than 60 days in jail.
  • You may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500.

Upon your conviction, the court will forward a copy of the judgment to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

 Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-5-1, Indiana Code Section 9-24-18-8

 Minors Prohibited From Bars

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to enter a bar or any other public place that furnishes or sells alcoholic beverages.  Violating this law is a Class C misdemeanor and penalties include:

  • driver’s license suspension for up to one year
  • up to 60 days in jail
  • a fine of up to $500, and
  • participation in an alcohol treatment program.

In addition, bars or other places that sell or provide alcohol may not  allow minors to be in their establishments. If they do, the establishment or its employees may  be charged with a Class C misdemeanor  and the penalties include up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Several exceptions to this rule apply. For example, it is not illegal for a minor to be in a bar if:

  • the minor is 18 years or older
  • the minor is accompanied by a parent, family member, or guardian who is 21 years or older, and
  • the purpose for being in a licensed establishment is to consume food and not alcoholic beverages.

Also, it’s not a illegal for a minor to be in a public place that sells or provides alcohol if that place is a civic center, convention center, sports arena, bowling center, drug store, grocery store, boat, airplane, or other public place described in Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-11

Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-10, Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-11

Indiana Zero Tolerance For Minors

If you are under the age 21 and found operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. You will be subject to the following penalties before the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will reinstate your license:

  • You will be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $130.
  • The BMV will require you to provide proof of financial responsibility by obtaining SR22 insurance.

You will be charged with a Class C infraction and the court may order you to pay a fine of up to $500 and additional court costs.

Indiana Code Section 9-30-5-8.5

Selling Alcohol to Minors

Anyone who is caught intentionally furnishing or selling an alcoholic beverage to a minor will be charged with the following:

Class A Misdemeanor Offense (with prior unrelated conviction)

  • You will be sentenced up to one year in jail.
  • You will be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

Class B Misdemeanor Offense (no prior conviction)

  • You will be sentenced up to 180 days in jail.
  • You will be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000

Class D Felony Offense

  • You will be charged with a felony if consumption of the alcoholic beverage by a minor results in serious bodily injury or death to another human being.
  • You will be imprisoned for 6 months to 3 years.
  • You may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-8

Employing Minors is Prohibited

It is against the law to employ a minor in any place that furnishes or sells alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off the premises of a licensed establishment. Violators will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor offense and the penalties include:

  • You will be sentenced up to 180 days in jail.
  • You will be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000

The exceptions to this law includes the following:

  • The individual is at least 19 years old but less than 21 who has successfully completed a certified alcohol server training program.
  • The person is employed as a waiter, server, or waitress to serve alcoholic beverages in the dining area of a hotel or restaurant.
  • A supervisor over the age of 21 years is present at the time the alcoholic beverages are served.

Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-12, Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-7-13 

To learn more about the MIP laws, read Title 7.1, Article 5, Chapter 7 Indiana Code. If you are facing MIP charges in Indiana, contact a criminal defense lawyer for legal advice.

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