Denver police and security personnel closely monitor college beer blasts and sporting events of all kinds (school-related and professional) for evidence of underage drinking. And, according to the language of the law, officers don’t require a great deal of evidence to arrest someone for Minor in Possession of Alcohol, otherwise known as MIP; if the alcohol is simply within reach of the underage person, they could face arrest for possession.
Minors can be prosecuted under one of two existing state laws that have been incorporated into the city of Denver’s municipal code:
CRS 18-13-122 (2)(a), Possession of Ethyl Alcohol by a Person Under 21 Years of Age, which reads, “Any person under twenty-one years of age who possesses or consumes ethyl alcohol anywhere in the state of Colorado commits illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol by an underage person”; or
CRS 12-47-901(1)(c), Possession of Alcohol Beverages By a Person Under 21 Years of Age, which makes it unlawful for any person under the age of 21 “To possess alcohol beverages in any store, in any public place, including public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, or upon property owned by the state of Colorado or any subdivision thereof, or inside vehicles while upon the public streets, alleys, roads, or highways when such person is under twenty-one years of age.
An underage possession case can be prosecuted as a petty offense, to be heard in general session court, or as a misdemeanor, with hearings in county court. The penalties for conviction generally include a fine, unsupervised probation and completion of an alcohol awareness class. Of more concern to the defendant, however, may be the consequences that can occur outside the courtroom.
All of the Denver metro-area colleges and universities — including the University of Denver, the University of Colorado (the Boulder and Denver campuses) Metro State College of Denver and Community College of Denver — have student conduct code policies regarding the possession and/or use of alcohol by underage persons, and an MIP arrest can trigger disciplinary actions by the school. Even more serious is the fact that an arrest can remain on a person’s record indefinitely, jeopardizing future employment and career choices, if steps are not taken to seal their criminal record.