Indiana Minor in Possession of Alcohol: Laws and Penalties

Indiana law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming any type of alcoholic beverage (sometimes referred to as "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, which can mean up to 60 days in jail and up to a $180 fine. (Ind. Code § 7.1-5-7-7.)

    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 can also be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. (Ind. Code § 7.1-5-7-1.)

    Minors Prohibited From Bars and Taverns

    It is illegal for anyone under 21 to enter a bar, tavern, 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 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 places (listed in statute). (Ind. Code §§ 7.1-5-7-10, -11.)

    Indiana's 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 but less than .08%, 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.
    • 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. (Ind. Code § 9-30-5-8.5.)

    Selling Alcohol to Minors

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

    Class B Misdemeanor

    For a first offense (within five years) under this section, the penalty is a class B misdemeanor.

    • You could receive a sentence of up to 180 days in jail.
    • You could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

    Class A Misdemeanor

    For a subsequent (unrelated) offense under this section, the penalty is a class A misdemeanor.

    • You could be sentenced to up to one year in jail.
    • You could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000.

    Level 6 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 could be sentenced to a minimum of six months and up to two and a half years' incarceration.
    • You may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

    (Ind. Code § 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 include 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.

    (Ind. Code §§ 7.1-5-7-12, -13.)

    Contact an Attorney

    If you are facing MIP charges in Indiana, contact a criminal defense lawyer for legal advice. A criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.

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