Michigan's MIP laws updated for 2018

First-time offenses bumped from misdemeanors to civil infractions

By Sarah Hollis | 1/15/18 4:44am

GVL / Emily Frye GVPD place a man with a warrant under arrest on Saturday October 28, 2017.

The new year tends to bring many changes along with it, and not just resolutions. In Michigan, this new year has brought about a change to minor in possession (MIP) laws.   

Before these law changes went into effect with the start of the new year, each MIP would be classified as a misdemeanor, whether the minor was a first-time offender or not, and would appear on their arrest record.

“A couple years ago, the state legislature introduced a bill reducing the punishment for a minor in possession offense from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction,” said Sgt. Jeff Stoll of the Grand Valley State University Police Department. “A civil infraction is going to be more like a traffic ticket, something that you would receive and then take care of with the court, but without having it appear on your arrest record. 

“That was passed and that was signed into law by the governor a year and change ago, and it gave law enforcement agencies and courts a full year for it to take effect.”

The consequences for a minor receiving their first MIP will no longer include an arrest with possible jail time. 

“For the first violation, the minor is responsible for a state civil infraction and shall be fined not more than $100,” Gary Secor, court administrator for the 61st District Court, told the Grand Valley Lanthorn. “A court may order a minor under this subdivision to participate in substance use disorder services as defined in section 6230 of the public health code, and designated by the administrator of the office of substance abuse services, and may order the minor to perform community service and to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense.”  

Though the MIP law change makes the punishment for the first MIP considerably less, this doesn’t mean that minors should be less concerned about receiving an MIP or less careful about underage drinking. 

“One of the concerns would be if you view underage drinking as not as severe, you could end up getting yourself in even more trouble by consuming alcohol and making further bad choices, like drunk driving, property damage or assault, something that tends to happen when people have been drinking,” Stoll said. “So, we’re hopeful that there won’t be a trickle-down effect that people will drink more because they view the punishment as less.” 

One final piece of information to be aware of with the new law change is that it does not apply to minors who already had an MIP on file before the new year began. 

“Anyone that has received an MIP prior to the new year, that counts as the one," Stoll said. "Your second isn’t reset to zero now. So, if someone had an MIP in October, we cannot give them a civil infraction—they are still getting a misdemeanor. Even though people may not have had a previous civil infraction MIP arrest, if they had an MIP arrest before, then they are ineligible to get a civil infraction ticket.” 

Anyone with questions regarding the new MIP law changes can contact the GVPD at 616-331-3255. 

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