Montana Minor in Possession (MIP) of Alcohol Laws

Like other states, Montana has minor in possession of alcohol laws (“MIP” laws) to discourage under-age drinking. MIP laws seek to deter minors from participating in alcohol-related activities that may lead to injuries or more serious offenses.

Alcohol Possession and Consumption

In Montana, it is illegal for a person younger than 21 years of age to possess or consume alcohol (with some exceptions, see below). However, a minor who is merely present at a place where other people have or are selling alcoholic beverages may not be arrested or charged with violating this law.

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624

Sentences for Violators Younger Than 18 Years of Age

The sentence for violating the MIP laws depends on a violator’s age and the number of any prior convictions. The court may choose any or all of the sentencing options.

First Offense

Violators who are younger than 18 years of age and are convicted of a first offense face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $100-300
  • 20 hours of community service
  • Participation in a community-based substance abuse information course, if one is available. Not only the minor, but his or her parents or guardian must attend, complete, and pay for the course, and
  • If a violator has a driver's license, it will be confiscated by the court for 30 days.

Second Offense

Violators who are younger than 18 years old and are convicted of a second offense may be sentenced to:

  • A fine between $200 and $600
  • 40 hours of community service, and
  • Participation in a community-based substance abuse information course, if one is available. Not only the minor, but his or her parents or guardian must attend, complete, and pay for the course, and
  • If a violator has a driver’s license, it will be confiscated by the court for 6 months.
  • Completion of a chemical dependency assessment and participation in a chemical treatment program.

Third Offense

Violators who are younger than 18 years of age and are convicted of a third offense face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $300 and $900
  • 60 hours of community service
  • Participation in a community-based substance abuse information course, if one is available. Not only the minor, but his or her parents or guardian must attend, complete, and pay for the course, and
  • If a violator has a driver’s license, it will be confiscated by the court for 6 months.
  • Completion of a chemical dependency assessment and participation in chemical treatment program.

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624

Violators Younger Than 18 Years of Age Who Fail to Complete a Court Ordered Community-Based Substance Abuse Information Course

If a violator is younger than 18 years of age, has a driver’s license, and fails to complete a court ordered community-based substance abuse information course, the court may further suspend the violator’s license for a specific period of time, depending on the number of failures:

  • For a first offense, the court will suspend the violator’s license for 3 months.
  • For a second offense the court will suspend the violator’s license for 9 months.
  • For a third offense, the court will suspend the violator’s license for 12 months.

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624

Violators Who Are 18 Years of Age or Older

Violators who are 18 years of age or older face harsher penalties than those younger than 18.

First Offense

First-offense violators face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $100-$300
  • 20 hours of community service
  • Participation in a community-based substance abuse information course. The violator must attend, complete and pay for the course.

Second Offense

Second offenders face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $200-$600
  • 40 hours of community service
  • Participation in an alcohol information course at an alcohol treatment program which may also include alcohol or drug treatment at the court’s discretion. The violator must attend, complete and pay for the course.

Third Offense

Third offenders face the following penalties:

  • A fine between $300-$900
  • 60 hours of community service
  • Participation in an alcohol information course at an alcohol treatment program which may also include alcohol or drug treatment at the court’s discretion. The violator must attend, complete and pay for the course, and
  • Up to 6 months in jail.

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624

Minors May Not Attempt to Purchase Alcohol

Under Montana law, it is illegal for anyone younger than 21 years of age to attempt to purchase alcohol. Violators who are convicted of attempting to buy an alcoholic beverage may be sentenced to:

  • A fine of up to $150, and
  • Court ordered community service

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624

It Is Illegal to Sell or Provide Alcohol to a Minor

Montana targets those who provide alcohol, as well as the minor. It is illegal for anyone to sell or provide an alcoholic beverage to a person younger than 21 years of age.

Mont. Code Ann. § 16-6-305
Exceptions for Underage Possession and Use

In two situations, Montana allows someone younger than 21 years of age to possess or consume alcohol, and permits certain individuals to provide that alcohol.

Nonintoxicating Quantity

Montana law allows someone less than 21 years of age to possess or consume a nonintoxicating quantity of alcohol when it is:

  • Provided by the minor's parent or guardian
  • Used by a physician or dentist for medicinal purposes
  • Distributed by a licensed pharmacist upon the prescription of a physician, or
  • Used by an ordained minister or priest in connection with a religious service.

Mont. Code Ann. § 16-6-305

Possession Necessary for Employment

A minor may possess alcohol when it is necessary during the course of employment.

Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-624


Inviting a Minor to a Public Place of Alcoholic Consumption

It is a misdemeanor for anyone to invite a minor to a public place where alcoholic beverages are sold and to provide the minor with an alcoholic beverage.

Mont. Code Ann. § 16-6-305

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