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Senator renewing push to ease penalties for underage drinking in Michigan

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The state Senate is considering legislation that would ease penalties for underage drinking in Michigan.

A minor caught with alcohol for the first time would face a civil fine instead of a misdemeanor charge under the bill.

“It would be a good, hefty fine,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge).

“And I think that would cause most young people to not reoffend. The ones that do, the second offense then would go to misdemeanor.”

Jones says minor in possession charges make it difficult for people to find jobs or get college scholarships. He also says the number of MIP cases are clogging up the court system.

“Certainly, it’s unfortunate to have something like a minor-in-possession hold somebody back from a good job.”

Jones says Senate Bill 332 still allows police to detain minors until they’re sober.

He’s asking for a vote on the bill before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) says the caucus is “generally supportive of the policy,” but that a vote before 2016 is unlikely.

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