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Senate approves bill reducing penalty for underage drinkers

Beer sampler photo
Wikimedia | Paul Joseph

Minors caught drinking alcohol for the first time in Michigan might soon have a lighter penalty after the state Senate passed a bill making it a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor.

Legislation approved Thursday would make the second offense a misdemeanor.

The third offense would suspend drivers' licenses for minors caught with alcohol, which already is the case.

The bill now goes to the House.

Bill sponsor and Grand Ledge Republican Sen. Rick Jones says kids shouldn't be jailed for having a can of beer.

Republican Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker voted against the bill, saying it's against the law.

According to 2014 data, courts secured about 9,300 convictions for a first minor in possession charge that year.

State police say there were about 40,000 related arrests from 2009 to 2013.

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