Minor in possession charge may be decriminalized in Michigan

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Under legislation that passed the Michigan Senate last week, a first minor in possession of alcohol offense may become a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor charge.

Senate bills 332 and 333 were introduced by Sen. Rick Jones (R) in May 2015 and passed 36-2 in the state senate on Thursday, March 3.
The bills will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

SB 332 would remove the misdemeanor penalties for a first violation of the minor-in-possession of alcohol law. First-time offenders would instead face a $100 fine.

SB 333 would suspend the driver’s license of a minor for a second and subsequent violation of the minor-in-possession of alcohol law. A minor’s license would not be automatically suspended for a single instance of open alcohol in a vehicle or a minor transporting alcohol in a vehicle.

Student Association President Jarrod Eaton said the matter of these bills will be brought to the attention of Student Association’s General Assembly at the upcoming house meeting, which is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. Monday, March 14 in the Alumni Lounge.

“SVSU Student Association, as a member of the affiliated group known as the Student Association of Michigan, has offered its public support of the bill[s],” Eaton said.

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Coordinator of Student Conduct Programs Marie Rabideau said members of the Student Conduct Hearing Board have not had any conversations to date regarding the legislation.

Police Chief Leo Mioduszewski said the legislation won’t have much of an effect on enforcement or procedures.

“Whether it’s a civil infraction or misdemeanor, the only difference may be if somebody was being violent and they were a minor that had been drinking, we may have taken them to jail for their own safety, whereas if it’s a civil infraction, you can’t lodge, all you can do is write a ticket to them,” Mioduszewski said. “That’ll be about the only thing that I could see that potentially may be different. I don’t think it’s going to affect our operation at all.

“If we run into a (minor in possession), if we were gonna write them up before, we would write them up now if the new law passed.”