In the state of Florida, any one under the age of 21 is considered a minor, and it is illegal for them to possess any commercial alcoholic beverage or a mixed drink containing more than.5% alcohol. A minor charged with possession of alcohol faces dire consequences, particularly in a zero-tolerance state like Florida. Aside from any fines or jail time, their record can be affected, which can prevent employment or schooling opportunities. However, if an employee older than 18 holds a job that requires them to have alcohol, they can possess it but cannot consume it.
Possession of alcohol is considered an “enhanceable” crime, meaning that the penalties that a minor convicted of possession faces increase if the individual has any previous convictions. According to Florida statute 562.111, if this is the first charge that the minor has faced, the crime is considered a second degree misdemeanor and the penalties may include:
• Up to 60 days in jail.
• Up to 6 months probation.
• Up to $500 in fines.
The court also must revoke the individual’s driving license for at least 6 months, but this restriction can be enforced for up to 12 months if the court finds it necessary. For a second conviction of possession, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor and the individual faces up to $1000 in fines and / or a year in jail.
Legally, however, a lot of freedom is left for the court to decide on alternative punishment. Often, as a replacement or supplement to other punishment, the minor might be instructed to attend alcohol education classes. These classes, which teach attendees about the risks of alcohol and how to resist peer pressure, can be effective in prevent future violations. Offenders can take the courses online if preferred, which can provide more privacy for the individual attending them. A juvenile defense lawyer may be advisable, as they can work to get these types of penalties as an alternative to jail time for the accused.
Additionally, any one over the age of 21 that supplies alcohol to a minor is culpable for any damage or injury that the minor causes as a result. Any adult that knowingly allows minors to drink, including parent hosting parties, can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which carries up to 60 days in jail and 5,000 in fines.
Similarly, if a teenager possesses a false ID, whether it’s borrowed or forged, can be fined $5,000 or sentenced to up to 5 years in jail. Anyone who helps someone to obtain or use a fake ID can also face the same penalties.
Clay Adkinson is a criminal defense attorney dedicated to serving those facing charges in Northern Florida. As an experienced lawyer, he’s defended hundreds of men, women, and juveniles facing DUI and drug charges. He gives each client personalized attention and aggressively fights to minimize their charges.