Minors who drink legally in Canada and then return to Michigan intoxicated can no longer be charged with a minor in possession.
A decision last month by the Michigan Court of Appeals grants those between the ages of 19 and 21 who travel to Canada an additional advantage while placing law officers in a compromising position.
“We conclude that minors who legally ingest alcohol in a jurisdiction outside Michigan and then return to Michigan (e.g. as passengers in a vehicle) with the alcohol in their bodies have not violated the minor in possession statute,” the court ruling states.
But the court’s legislation on this matter left room for amendment.
The primary logic behind this decision is that the definition of “alcoholic liquor” includes the words “which are fit for use for beverage purposes” and that once a person has ingested liquor, that liquor is not “fit for use for beverage purposes” and no longer fits under the definition of “alcoholic liquor.”
The court acknowledged this new legislation “may somewhat hinder police officers … attempting to enforce the MIP statute” but continues to state that “because the statute makes specific conduct criminal, it must be strictly construed.”
“Certainly our position is that we support what the courts decide,” Ann Arbor Police Department’s Sgt. Mike Logghe said. But the issue is “how to ascertain that they were really in Canada.”
“The border is one thing, but after they leave the border is another issue,” Logghe said.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown also referred to the possible discrepancies that may result from this new court ruling.
“I think it’s going to be confusing for a lot of people.”
Brown said DPS will address this by placing the burden of proof on the youth.
“If the person whom we are dealing with on campus believes they did their drinking in Canada and the MIP doesn’t apply to them, it is up to them to prove that they were in Canada. I wouldn’t be surprised if more legislation were to be passed on this.”
LSA sophomore Luba Dub echoed Brown’s sentiment. She said that although she has not thought about it thoroughly yet, ” it surprises me that they would pass such a law because it doesn’t make sense.”
LSA junior David Post said he supports the new law.
“If students can live away from their parents and be responsible for their daily lives and able to serve in the military, they should be allowed to drink.”
Post added that, “I think this law is good because our culture really needs to look at its position on alcohol and re-evaluate if what we are doing makes any sense.”
LSA freshman Joi Rencher agreed, but voiced her concern.
“As long as they are not driving its OK,” Rencher said.