Underage Drinking in Florida May Result in Numerous Penalties
We all know that young people make mistakes, particularly when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Like all states, Florida law prohibits the consumption, purchase or possession of alcoholic beverages for anyone below the age of 21 — with the exception of certain religious activities and medical treatments. However, our state has some especially harsh penalties for young people charged and convicted with underage drinking.
To truly understand the law in Florida, it’s important to know that an underage drinking charge does not even have to involve the actual consumption of alcohol — possession is often enough for police to issue a citation. In fact, in many situations, young people are charged with underage drinking even if the alcoholic beverages in their possession haven’t been opened.
Technically, Florida law allows for the imprisonment of youth found guilty of underage drinking, although this is very rare. In most cases, the offender must pay a substantial fine, possibly go through alcohol abuse treatment courses or perform community service. It’s also likely that offenders will lose their driving privileges for a period of at least six months, with courts reserving the right to increase this period to a full year.
A second or subsequent offense, classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, comes with more serious penalties, including up to 12 months in jail. The offender’s license may also be revoked for up to two years. With this in mind, it’s important for families to work with a skilled lawyer who can advocate on the alleged offender’s behalf and seek reduced or dropped charges.
For more information on this important issue impacting young people across Florida, contact an Orlando criminal defense attorney with Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A.