Underage Drinking And Minor In Possession: The Laws & Consequences
Whether it’s a beer at a high school party or some tequila shots taken to blow off steam during the first year of college, underage drinking is heavily prevalent among young people – and a problem. And it isn’t surprising – between depictions of drinking in television and movies, and in a world of strong peer pressure, there’s a high chance a young person will have an alcoholic drink before turning the legal age of 21.
In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 60 percent of young adults will have had a drink before turning 18.
And although drinking underage might seem like a rite of passage to some young adults, it can have steep legal ramifications. According to the Florida minor drinking laws, underage drinking or drug use can land a young drinker in jail as well as result in a permanent criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their life. This could mean the young person could be without a driver’s license and without driving privileges for an extended period of time.
There are also laws regarding minor in possession, meaning it’s a crime to possess alcohol under the legal age of 21. And in fact, as a minor under the age of 21, the person does not even need to be in physical possession of alcohol or drugs to be charged as a minor in possession.
In Florida, a minor can be charged with possession if they show signs of being under the influence, if they have alcohol of drugs in their system or even if they are in an area where alcohol is present.
If someone is arrested or cited for minor in possession charges in the Orlando area, the penalties can be tough. For a first offense, the person is facing a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and/or a fine of up to $500. There is also a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension, which the judge can increase up to one year.
Penalties for possession of alcohol by a minor can be increased if there is a prior charge of the same crime. For a second offense, the charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor and the penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, with up to one year in jail, and the loss of a driver’s license for up to one year on a first offense. For a second offense, it increases to a mandatory two years.
A conviction not only means legal and financial penalties, but it could also affect college and financial aid applications, employment or even finding a place to live. And in the case of an underage DUI charge, drunk drivers could face potential punishments such as jail time, fines, community service or suspension of the driver’s license.
In the case of underage drinking, minor in possession charges, or even underage DUI cases, it always benefits those facing charges to consult an experienced attorney who can build a solid defense. Please contact an attorney in your area if you need help with a juvenile facing alcohol related charges.
Orlando attorney Joe Knape is highly experienced when it comes to the matters of criminal defense and family law in Orlando and Central Florida.
The 850 CALL JOE Law Firm
1728 S Bumby Ave
Orlando, FL 32806