Question: What will happen if I am caught with alcohol (MIP) while I'm not driving and I have a clean record? How long will the MIP say on my permanent record?
Answer: The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21 years. However, a person is an adult at 18 years. A person over the age of 18 in possession will be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced. A person under the age of 18 will be dealt with at the discretion of the arresting officer. No intoxicated person will be left to himself. His parents will be called, and if they are not available he or she will be taken to a juvenile facility.
There will be questions as to how you got the alcohol. If you bought it with a fake ID, this is another misdemeanor. If you solicited someone else to buy it, this is a misdemeanor and is more serious. You can lose your drivers' license or at the very least you may have to wait longer to get your license.
If you have applied for a guaranteed tuition scholarship for college in Arizona, you will lose this scholarship for the use of alcohol.
How long a misdemeanor stays on your record depends upon whether you are actually charged, or merely picked up and sent home. (This depends upon the arresting officer, and may depend upon whether you are actually very very drunk, or merely have a beer in your hand.) It depends upon whether you are a juvenile (under 18) at the time of your arrest, or are an adult. It depends upon whether your record stays clean following the arrest.
These are all the legal things. There are lots of extra legal things like how your family and friends feel when they know you've been cited with possession of alcohol, and whether you get anyone else in trouble at the same time you are cited.