College Station is a big university town. Each fall the population swells by 50,000 as Texas A&M Aggies flood the streets, restaurants, and apartment complexes. Of course, local drinking establishments top this list. And it’s a bonanza for local law enforcement and it’s only a matter of time before horrified parents from Houston, Dallas, or San Antonio are calling my late-night answering service to reveal their child was just arrested for failing to identify themselves to the police, typically at a local Northgate bar. More accurately, the kid probably lied about their age, birthdate, or name to avoid getting in trouble for drinking under-age. That is the crime of failure to identify. If the kid only knew!
Being truthful with police when questioned is far better (and less serious) than lying to avoid detection for drinking under 21. When a police officer lawfully detains a college kid, they’re required by law to provide a correct name, address, and birthdate. Giving the police any inaccurate information is called “failure to identify.” Kids get arrested for failure to identify. Kids get a criminal record for failure to identify. Failure to identify is typically a Texas class B misdemeanor. On the other hand, a minor possessing alcohol (MIP) is only a class C. A minor consuming alcohol (MIC) is only a class C. Class C misdemeanors are akin to traffic tickets. You don’t go to jail, no fingerprints, no mugshot. Most importantly, college kids can often avoid long-term class C criminal records with the help of a qualified College Station MIP defense lawyer.
Prosecutors take failure to identify very seriously. Lying to the police about one’s age consumes valuable law enforcement resources. Prosecutors hate that. They never hesitate to pursue the best and brightest Texas A&M University students for failure to identify. But it’s an easy crime to avoid . . . an easy trip “downtown” to sidestep. When you’re caught drinking under-aged it’s probably easier to “fess-up” than attempt to lie about your age or identity. With an MIP or MIC you get to sleep in your own bed that night. But getting arrested puts your parents through hell. They blame themselves, not knowing just where they went wrong. If you’re caught, at least accurately tell the police who you are. You’ll get an MIP or MIC and probably avoid arrest. I think your parents would consider that a good compromise. That’s when you SHOULD talk to police. It’s the easiest trouble you can avoid.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.