In the State of Florida, it is illegal for an individual under the age of 21 to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage. Charges associated with minors in possession of alcohol may be classified as either a first-degree misdemeanor or second-degree misdemeanor, from which penalties may include jail time, probation, fines, and a permanent criminal record.
If you have been charged with underage possession of alcohol in Florida, contact a Gainesville criminal defense attorney with The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates today. Our law firm specializes in the criminal law practice area and can help protect your rights. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
How Is Underage Possession Of Alcohol Defined?
According to Florida Statute § 562.111, it is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to have in his or her possession any alcoholic beverage, which includes beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks, and other drinks. Possession may either be “actual” or “constructive” in nature. Actual possession occurs when an alcoholic beverage is found on the person of the underage individual, or within his or her ready reach and under his or her control.
In contrast, constructive possession refers to alleged possession of an alcoholic beverage, to which prosecutors need not prove that the minor was actually holding the drink. The prosecution need only prove that the alcoholic beverage was in a place over which the minor had control and that he or she had knowledge of the beverage within his or her presence.
What Are The Exceptions To The Statute?
Florida Statute § 562.111 details exceptions to charges of minor possession of alcohol by stating “the prohibition in this section against the possession of alcoholic beverages does not apply to the tasting of alcoholic beverages by a student who is at least 18 years of age, who is tasting the alcoholic beverages as part of the student’s required curriculum at a postsecondary educational institution that is institutionally accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and that is licensed or exempt from licensure pursuant to the provisions of chapter 1005 or is a public postsecondary education institution; if the student is enrolled in the college and is tasting the alcoholic beverages only for instructional purposes during classes that are part of such a curriculum; if the student is allowed only to taste, but not consume or imbibe, the alcoholic beverages; and if the alcoholic beverages at all times remain in the possession and control of authorized instructional personnel of the college who are 21 years of age or older.”
Do I Need An Attorney For Underage Drinking Charges?
If you have been charged with underage consumption or possession of alcohol, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal law attorney. One occasional drink may lead to a series of undesirable outcomes. If a minor receives a possession ticket, or if someone is harmed due to of a minor’s reckless behavior (i.e. driving while intoxicated), the minor may be charged with severe consequences to his or her behavior, resulting in a permanent criminal record.
These types of records are extremely difficult to expunge, often making the pursuit of higher education, credit accounts, and even employment impossible. Working with an experienced Gainesville attorney is your best chance to gain a favorable outcome both for your case and your future. Contact us today to discuss your case.
What Are The Penalties To Underage Possession Of Alcohol?
When alcohol and/or drugs are consumed by minors at the knowledge and/or permission of an adult who is over the age of 18, the criminal penalty is known as Open House Party and the charge only applies to the adult who hosted the party. However, underage possession of alcohol is a charge to which individuals under the age of 21 can be charged for possessing and/or consuming alcohol. 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 his or her 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 programs.