Underage drinking is not only a serious public health problem in the United States, it can also result in jail, probation, and a permanent criminal record if arrested and charged. In Florida, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess or drink an alcoholic beverage. There are also legal consequences for anyone who provides alcohol to minors. Here’s what you should know about Florida’s minor in possession (MIP) laws.
Defining Minor in Possession of Alcohol
Florida’s minor in possession of alcohol laws establish 21 as the legal drinking age. Anyone under 21-years-old found in possession of alcohol, including liquor, wine, beer and mixed drinks, could face criminal minor in possession of alcohol charges. Teenagers do not have to be caught holding an alcoholic drink to be charged with this offense. A minor can be accused of minor in possession if the beverage is within their reach.
Consequences of Underage Drinking
Under Florida law, the possession of alcoholic beverages by minors is a generally a second-degree misdemeanor. Those convicted may face the following penalties:
- First offense: $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
- Second offense: $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Additionally, the court may direct the DMV to deny or suspend a teen’s driver’s license and driving privileges. A first offense results in a license suspension of 6 months to a year, while following offenses result in a license suspension of up to 2 years.
Providing Alcohol to Minors
It is also illegal for any adult to provide alcohol to minors. Anyone who sells or supplies alcohol to minors can be held legally responsible for any injury or harm caused by the minor. This law means that adults who allow teens to drink at their home or at a business may face legal repercussions for giving teens alcohol. This crime is considered a second degree misdemeanor and penalties include fines up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Today!
If your child has been arrested for underage drinking, contact the Clearwater criminal defense lawyers at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. immediately. We can come up with a defense—such as lack of knowledge of the alcoholic nature of the beverage possessed—to contest the charge and avoid a permanent criminal record.Call (727) 245-9009 or contact us online for a free consultation.