Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Baton Rouge
The Baton Rouge Code of Ordinances does make it unlawful for people of any age to have open alcoholic beverages in public places and bans on underage possession of alcohol in public, and on having open alcoholic beverages in a vehicle on the road.
JUDE Task Force for Underage Drinking
Baton Rouge has the “JUDE” task force, which stands for Juvenile and Underage Drinking Enforcement, and they are police officers and agents of the local alcohol board who earn overtime money by busting kids with alcohol. They have a tendency to detain, interrogate, and sometimes search, pretty much everyone that looks like a kid to them, who has a container that may contain liquids.
JUDE agents have been known to detain young looking people at football games, tailgating, and Tigerland, who had a commercial fast food cup, a soda bottle, Solo cup, or Styrofoam cup. Most judges don’t view this as adequate probable cause to stop or detain a citizen, whether they’re 21 or not, and motions to suppress are often granted on those grounds.
JUDE is a revenue source for the officers – and for the City, which has pretrial diversion programs that are considerably more expensive than the fines, using the threat of “a mark on your record” to convince young people (and their parents) to shell out time and money to the City.
The requirements of pretrial diversion are sometimes negotiable, and not every case is a good case for the city. A consultation with an experienced Minor in Possession attorney, like Joseph Scott, who prosecuted hundreds of such cases, is always a good idea before you go to court.
Usual Penalty for Minor in Possession First Offense?
The fine for Minor in Possession, under Baton Rouge’s ordinance, may not exceed $100.00, and the court costs are fixed by the Clerk of Court (who varies them periodically). There is jail exposure, not to exceed six months, but the most common penalties are a fine of $100.00, sometimes a class on making better decisions, or some added community service.
State law likewise provides a fine of not more than $100.00, or six months in jail, or both, but also allows the Court to suspend the offender’s driver’s license for up to 180 days. When the question is “How much is an MIP ticket?” the answer may be “$100.00, some court costs, and riding the bus for six months.”
Purchasing Alcoholic Beverages for Minors
Buying alcoholic beverages for younger friends is a misdemeanor, under state and local law. Baton Rouge provides that anyone other than a parent, spouse, or legal guardian of a person under 21, who buys alcohol for persons under 21, can be fined up to $500.00, or imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both. State law, statewide, is the same, except that the person buying for the minor can also have his or her driver’s license suspended for up to 180 days.
Selling Alcoholic Beverages to Minors
Retail clerks and alcohol vendors both face criminal liability for serving or selling alcoholic beverages to minors. State law provides for a penalty of not less than 30 days in jail, nor more than six months, and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000.00, or both.
The Baton Rouge Code of Ordinances is the same, except that the jail time has no mandatory minimum, and the maximum fine for a first offense is $750.00. Conviction of a criminal charge of selling alcohol to minors also exposes the individual seller and business to administrative and civil sanctions, including loss of a license to sell alcohol, which is often crippling or fatal to a business.
Exceptions to the Louisiana Open Container Law
Minor in Possession of alcohol has a variety of exceptions, such as having alcoholic beverages
- For an established religious purpose;
- While in the company of a parent, spouse, or legal guardian 21 years of age or older (where public possession by persons over 21 is permitted);
- For medical purposes, such as a prescription from a doctor;
- In private residences, or
- When required by employment of a person under 21 by a licensed brewer, distiller, distributor, or the like.
(Again, check local ordinances for possible variations.)
Baton Rouge Attorney Experienced with Minor in Possession Charges
Baton Rouge MIP lawyer Joseph Scott has handled hundreds of Minor in Possession, open container, and open container in vehicle charges as a prosecutor. Youthful misadventures are common, and shouldn’t be the end of a career or profession before it’s even started. Whether the answer is:
- Guiding a defendant through pretrial,
- Negotiating better terms of diversion,
- Quashing a citation and charges through motion work,
- or trying the case to a judge,
Baton Rouge defense attorney Joseph Scott brings an aggressive defense, tempered by knowledge of how the enforcement agencies do their job.
Business owners facing administrative actions need an attorney who’s familiar with the ABC Board procedures and regulations. Former Baton Rouge Metro Council legislative attorney, Joseph Scott, has worked with local and state authorities on liquor license issues from the policy level, enforced those policies in administrative and court actions, and is now ready to help you with his expertise and knowledge of the system.