The East Lansing City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reduce the penalty for a first Minor In Possession offense, effective at the beginning of next year.
The penalty will be reduced from a $500 fine and the offense going on permanent records as a misdemeanor to a $100 fine and a civil infraction. A state law clearing the way for a reduction in penalties was signed into Michigan law with widespread legislative support in 2016.
A civil infraction means normally no jail time as it is a non-criminal violation of a rule, ordinance or regulation. Civil infractions also do not become part of a person’s criminal record.
“Before the state changed any MIP penalty to be a minor misdemeanor, it was, in East Lansing, an appearance ticket,” said Mayor Mark S. Meadows. “We just came full circle on that because that’s the way we used to do things.”
“It is a good change” said 19-year-old Regan Henry. “It is good just because MIPs are so prevalent in this community especially.”
Clay Shiels, a 19-year-old Whole Foods worker, said, “I have connections with people who have received an MIP, so these changes would be nice.”
Two of Henry’s best friends actually just received MIPs. “It is sad that it happened now instead of in January, when it would only be a fine” Henry said. “It is going on their records and that is not good.”
Retired Vietnam war veteran Rick Dahlka agrees with Henry.
“I think there is a lot of profundity here because the world is a much different place today than when I graduated from Michigan State in 1975,” said Dahlka. “This would seem to be a reasonable change because the city tries to scrape some revenue from drunk kids who unluckily get caught trying to enjoy themselves.”
Dahlka also said that “if you are responsible and do what you are supposed to do, you should not have the issue.”