Minors sober up on fines, classes

Monday’s court docket featured 12 MIP cases; seven were resolved in first 30 minutes

January 11, 2006

Within the first 30 minutes of district court Monday, seven young adults pleaded guilty to Minor in Possession (MIP) charges – four of them were from Hood River County.

The charges resulted from two separate parties: the first on early Dec. 18, 2005 on Frankton Road; the second on early Christmas Eve on Thomsen Road.

And Michael Stenberg, 20, was the only of the four Hood River County young adults present at both.

He was partying with Lucas Brown, 20, and Mathew McClure, 19, at 12:05 a.m. when a sheriff’s deputy busted them for underage drinking.

He was with Chris Smith, 18, a 2005 Hood River Valley High School graduate, at 4:55 a.m. on Christmas Eve when he earned his second MIP in six days.

It was part of an eight-day drinking binge, he told Judge Paul Crowley, after the circuit court judge asked him what, “besides getting himself in trouble,” he was doing with his life.

“On the seventh day, I just kept on drinking,” he told the judge.

To help his case, Stenberg told Crowley he was expanding his parents’ home, working with concrete and taking a few community college classes.

After the court dismissed the four men, Stenberg reflected upon what he said.

“I think that may have been the wrong thing to say,” he said of describing his eight-day drinking binge. “But I said it because he asked me. He asked me what I was doing with my life. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him about the drinking binge.”

Crowley handed Stenberg the stiffest sentence – a mandatory $500 fine, enrollment in Victims’ Impact Panel classes and 32 hours of community service. Crowley duplicated the sentence for Stenberg’s second MIP conviction, but suspended it so long as Stenberg completes the responsibilities imposed by the first sentence.

“I’m so stoked,” Stenberg said. “I’m very, very, very happy.”

Smith received a $250 fine, due within 30 days.

Brown and McClure pled guilty in exchange for $150 fines and attendance of Victims Impact Panel classes.

Stenberg, McClure and Smith said they never drank alcohol while in high school.

“I went to a private school, you know,” Stenberg said.

Smith estimated he’s drunk on 10 to 12 occasions since high school.

“I don’t even like beer very much,” he said.

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