Alabama Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charges and Penalties

Like all states, Alabama has minor in possession (MIP) laws designed to deter minors from drinking and engaging in alcohol-related activities. Here are Alabama's main MIP laws and penalties.

Alabama law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from consuming, possessing, purchasing or transporting any type of alcohol. It is also illegal to use or attempt to use a fake driver's license to obtain or attempt to obtain any kind of alcohol. Violators will be issued a fine ranging from $50 to $500 and face up to 3 months in jail. In addition, the Department of Public Safety will suspend the person's driver's license for 3 to 6 months and charge a reinstatement fee of $275.

Most first-time offenders receive probation and are ordered to perform community service. Minors convicted of these charges can request "youthful offender status." If the court grants the request, the conviction will not appear on the minor's criminal record.

Selling and Serving Alcohol

The laws in Alabama allow people under age 21 to sell and serve alcohol in limited situations. Minors can work in establishments that serve alcohol when an adult is present, as long as they do not serve alcohol to customers. To serve alcohol, you must be at least 19 years old, and the establishment must hold an Alcoholic Beverage Control retail license and be state-certified as a responsible vendor.

To transport or sell beer and wine in a retail store, the person must be at least 16 years old and

  • the store's main product must not be alcohol,
  • the container must be sealed or unopened, and
  • a supervisor over the age of 19 must be present at the time.

The laws in Alabama strictly forbid stores, restaurants and individual adults from selling or serving alcohol to minors. Those who serve alcohol to a minor may face up to a year in jail and a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000.

Other Alabama Liquor Laws

In addition to laws that focus solely on minors, Alabama has several laws that limit access to alcohol. For example, many counties in Alabama are "dry," which means that they strictly prohibit the distribution, sale and production of alcoholic beverages. In counties that allow alcohol, sales occur mainly at state-owned establishments known as "package" or "ABC" stores. To be sold in a supermarket or convenience store (instead of a state liquor store), beer must contain less than 6 percent alcohol and wine must contain less than 16.5 percent alcohol.

Alabama Open House Party Laws

Under the Alabama Open House Party Law, adults will be punished for allowing minors to consume alcohol on their property. The law penalizes adults who:

  • allow a party to continue while knowing that minors were consuming alcohol on their property,
  • allow a person under the age of 21 to possess alcohol on their property, or
  • fail to take reasonable action to prevent illegal possession or consumption of alcohol on their property.

Adults who violate the Open House Party law will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

To learn more about liquor laws in Alabama, read Title 28 of the Code of Alabama, specifically codes 28-1-5 and 28-3A-25.

If you face MIP charges in Alabama, contact a criminal defense attorney in the area of the arrest for legal advice. While statutory law provides guidelines for such offenses, the local police, district attorneys office and judges usually determine how stiff the consequences may be.

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