Underage drinking is common, especially on college campuses throughout Florida, but it should not be taken lightly. From devastating health effects to serious jail time, the ramifications of underage possession of alcohol and underage consumption of alcohol are undesirable and difficult to revoke. Such consideration is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Minor(s) in Possession of Alcohol
In Florida, the crime of “underage possession of alcohol” is governed by Statute 562.111. This statute reads that it is illegal for anyone younger than 21 to possess or consume any alcoholic beverages unless an exception applies. Examples of legal exceptions include drinking sacramental wine as part of a religious service or temporarily possessing alcohol as part of employment as a waitress or cashier.
Underage Drinking at the University of Florida
Gainesville is the home of the Gator Nation. Students from both Santa Fe College and the University of Florida enjoy expressing their Gator pride and celebrating life. Whether at sorority and/or fraternity parties, tailgating and other football gatherings, or as a general way to relieve stress after exams, students often consume alcohol.
Unfortunately, many of these students are minors (under the age of 21). They may be pressured by peers to consume and/or possess alcohol, or they may simply be curious and desire to feel light and carefree. Alcohol possession and consumption is appropriate for students who are rightfully and legally able to drink. But for underage minors, consumption of alcohol can have detrimental effects on their health and general success in college. Many students become dependent on alcohol and develop unhealthy addictions. Other students may encounter near-death experiences after consuming more alcohol than their bodies can handle. The most common consequence of consuming and/or possession alcohol as a minor is that students are often expelled or suspended from school because of strict policies at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College.
Florida views underage alcohol consumption as a serious harm to minors and the surrounding community. Students may feel inclined to drive or engage in unlawful activities when under the influence of alcohol. More importantly, they may place their own lives at risk. Students who are impaired are more susceptible to physical and sexual attacks.
It is great to celebrate life in the Gator Nation, but it is even greater to celebrate life in the Gator Nation safely and legally.
Underage Drinking Penalties
A first violation of the underage possession of alcohol statute is a second degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation and/or a $500 fine. Second and all subsequent offenses are first degree misdemeanors and are punishable by up on one year in jail, one year of probation and/or a $1,000 fine.
A conviction for underage possession of alcohol also requires the court to direct the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to either revoke or suspend a minor’s driver’s license for six months to one year for the first offense and up to two years for all subsequent offenses. If, at the time of the offense a minor has never had a driver’s license, the DMV will revoke that minor’s right to obtain a driver’s license until the period of suspension is over. It does not matter that the offense has absolutely nothing to do with driving or owning a motor vehicle.
Other consequences of underage drinking include mandatory community service, counseling, and other problem-solving programs.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Underage Alcohol Ticket?
If you or your underage child has been charged with underage consumption or possession of alcohol, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. One “small” drink may lead to a series of undesirable outcomes. If a minor receives a possession ticket, or if someone is seriously harmed because of a minor’s reckless behavior (i.e. driving) while under the influence of alcohol, he/she may develop a criminal record. Such record is difficult and tedious to expunge, often making higher education, credit accounts, and even employment impossible. By working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can gain a favorable outcome for your future.
Gainesville, FL, Underage Possession Attorneys
At the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have seen it all. We understand the pressure for drinking on campus felt by minors from their peers and idols. It can be difficult to say no and to even handle oneself accordingly when under the influence of alcohol. Whether you receive a possession ticket or a serious criminal mark on your record, our underage possession attorneys will do everything to protect your future.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.