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When the Police Show Up and Knowing Your Rights Under the Law

What to do if the police show up
Often times Minor in Possession or MIP arrests occur when the police are called because of loud noise coming from inside a home, many cars parked in front of a home where a party is taking place, or there is a noisy dorm room. Maybe a neighbor called the police because they see several young people going into a home or they see kids drinking in the back yard. Or maybe that same neighbor notices a lot of late model cars parked in front of their home and they want the police to check it out.

There are several ways for the police to prove you have been drinking
The easiest is for them to merely ask if you have been drinking. If you say yes, you have done their job for them and unless the officer is your Uncle Bob, he probably will arrest you, take you down to the station, and call your parents to pick you up. Another way to prove MIP is for an officer to actually see you with alcohol in your possession, either actual possession or constructive possession.

Actual possession is when you have the bottle of beer in your hand. Constructive possession is when the bottle of beer is on the table so you know where it is and you could control (grab it) it if you wanted to. Obviously, if you want to reduce your chances of being arrested for MIP, don't drink where you can be seen. Lastly, the police can prove MIP by administering a breath test. If you have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of .03 or over, you have broken the law.

If the police knock on your door, ask to see a warrant
If the police knock on your door and ask to come in, ask them if they have a warrant. If they don't have a warrant, politely tell them that you will not let them in. In America, the police must have a warrant before entering your home unless there is an exigent circumstance such as a threat to public safety, they are in hot pursuit, or there is a legitimate fear that evidence will be destroyed. While often the police will say that if you don't let them in, they will be much tougher on you and they will get a warrant anyway, still politely refuse to let them in. Make them do what the Constitution demands and make them obtain a warrant. If you agree to let them in, anything they see or anything you say will be used against you. And as for making it easier on you, while the police do have discretion, usually they do their job and it is the prosecutor or the judge who has the power to go easier on you.

If the police ask you to take a breath test
Assuming the police have not seen you drinking, see you with a bottle of beer in your hands, or you are not falling down drunk and smell like a brewery, the police will ask (or usually demand) that you to take a breath test. Again politely refuse and ask to see a warrant. Under the United States and Michigan Constitution, breath test are considered a search and seizure and must be supported by probable cause and the issuance of a warrant. Often times, the police will say that if you don't submit to the test, they will arrest you and take you down to the station, but if you take the test and flunk, you are going to the station anyway. And remember, the threshold for MIP is .03, so if you have had just one beer in the last hour or two, you will test over that limit. If you demand that the police obtain a warrant, maybe by the time they get it, your BAC level, depending on how much you have had to drink, could become lower and register below the legal limit for minors. Or better yet, maybe the police know that a warrant will take an hour or so, they are at the end of their shifts, and Police Officer Bob is scheduled to go on vacation immediately after he is off duty. Make the police follow the rules and demand a warrant before submitting to a breath test!

The best policy is not to drink at all
The best policy is to refrain from drinking until you attain the legal age to do so. But if you have had something to drink and the police show up at your door or in the back yard, make sure you keep your mouth shut, ask to see a warrant if they want to enter your home, or ask you to take a breath test. Then before you do anything else, call the Law Office of James G. Schmier, who understands the MIP law and can work to protect your rights and your record.

The Law Office of James G. Schmier, PLLC is a Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving DUI and Family Law and Divorce law firm and provides legal representation in Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County and throughout Michigan including these Michigan cities:

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The Law Office of James G. Schmier, PLLC
Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving DUI Defense and Family Law Divorce Attorney
(248) 705 3742