What are your holiday plans? Because for many families, the holidays are all about getting people together and enjoying each other’s company.
You have dinners, gift exchanges, and big parties. And when there’s a big party, there’s usually a chance you’ll be enjoying spiked eggnog or cider.
You probably know that your teen is also at the age of wanting in on the alcoholic fun. Many parents say why not let them? Their philosophy is, if your child isn’t leaving the house, they should be allowed one or two drinks.
According to Minnesota law, this is okay! But the buck stops at letting your own children enjoy some booze. Know our state’s laws regarding drinking underage in order to avoid a holiday in court.
When Can Teens Legally Drink Alcohol in Minnesota?
There are two instances when teens can legally drink alcohol in Minnesota:
- State law says that teens can purchase alcohol if it is being used for legitimate “training, education, or research purposes” while supervised by an adult.
- They can also drink alcohol with a parent’s permission in the privacy of their own home.
So if your teen is at your home for a family party, they can enjoy some eggnog or a beer. Unless your child has legitimate reasons to buy alcohol, however, they are limited to family parties or small gatherings at home.
When Is Your Child Considered “Legal?”
Maybe your teen turns 21 during the holiday season. Just because the day is legally your child’s birthday doesn’t mean they can go out and get drinks at a bar.
Minnesota law states that your child is legally allowed to drink starting at 8 a.m. the day they turn 21.
They can have drinks the night before their 21st birthday if you are celebrating within the privacy of your own home. It’ll be another night, however, before you can take them out to the bar.
What About When Minnesotans Host Holiday Parties?
You can tell your teen that they can have a drink or two in your home, but once they invite their friends, you do best to stop passing out drinks.
Minnesota law does not allow parents to give another person’s child alcohol. You can’t even invite the friend’s parents over to give the friend permission to drink.
Any underage person who is not your child cannot have any booze while they’re in your house, period.
Don’t Let Your Teen Drink Outside Of Your Home
If your teen’s friend says their parents let them drink, you still have to say no. Teens can only drink with their parents’ permission in the privacy of their own homes. Once your teen steps out the door, they aren’t allowed to imbibe.
Don’t think a note signed by you will get them off the hook if they are caught drinking at a friend’s house. You will just be putting your teen, their friends, and their friends’ parents at risk by letting your teen drink outside the house.
Never Let Your Teen Drink and Drive
Minnesota also has hard and fast rules about drinking and driving underage. Under no circumstances should your teen get behind the wheel of a car after a holiday party.
Minnesota strictly enforces a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Even if they blow a .01, they could wind up with a DWI.
That DWI could follow your teen as they try to get into college, apply for student loans, or get a job. Order your child a rideshare instead, or choose a designated driver before your next holiday party.
Charges and Penalties for Minor in Possession (MIP) in Minnesota
What happens if Minnesota police catch you handing out cocktails to your teen’s friends at a holiday party? You might face Minor in Possession (MIP) charges.
MIP is a misdemeanor charge in the state of Minnesota. Penalties include up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
You may also face additional charges for any of the following crimes:
- Persuading a minor to buy alcohol
- Selling alcohol to a minor
- Helping a minor misrepresent their age
Your Teen Will Also Face Consequences
You are not the only person who will face consequences for giving minors alcohol. The teens who are caught drinking will also face consequences.
In most cases, the teens will only face fines of a few hundred dollars max. If they are caught behind the wheel of a car, though, they will face additional — and serious — consequences.
The charge may also end up on your teen’s permanent record.
Don’t let an MIP charge ruin the holiday season for you and your family. Restrict your child’s drinking to your home and take their keys if they’ve had a drink. Reach out to a Minnesota lawyer if you or your teen get in trouble with the law.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).