Michigan's MIP Law

Under Michigan’s Minor in Possession Law, “A peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe a minor has consumed alcoholic liquor or has any bodily alcohol content may require the person to submit to a preliminary chemical breath analysis.” MCL 436.1703. This law has been stuck down, however, in a ruling issued by Judge David Lawson out of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Judge Lawson, citing prior rulings, held that a breath test is considered a search and seizure and, as such, there must be probable cause not just a reasonable cause, a lesser standard, to force you to submit to a PBT. So if you are compelled to submit to a PBT, blow over the legal limit and then charged with MIP, this ruling could cause your case to be dismissed. On the other hand, some judges in Michigan are ignoring this ruling and still enforcing the law as it is written.

Another way around this ruling is if the jurisdiction where you are charged has written its own local MIP ordinance in a way that doesn’t require you to submit to a PBT. East Lansing has such a ordinance. For instance, this ordinance states that the officer may request you take a PBT. Because you are not required to submit to the PBT, if you agree to take the PBT it is considered voluntary and the results will be used against you. And usually, the police are pretty good at getting you to agree to a PBT even though you are not required to take one.

Bottom line, don’t submit to a PBT. Force the Officer to go to a neutral magistrate or judge where he will have show probable cause why a search warrant should be issued to compel you to submit to a search and seizure. So unless you are actually caught with a beer in your hand, the police observe you drinking or you are falling down drunk or smell like a distillery, don’t consent. On the other hand, the best way to avoid an MIP charge is not to drink until you are allowed to drink by law.