Florida’s Underage Alcohol Laws

Across the nation, the states have enacted strict laws regarding the purchase, possession, and consumption of alcohol and Florida is no different. Despite these laws, teenagers are in the habit of pushing their limits when it comes to illegal drinking. Often, they take these risks because they don’t realize they’re breaking the law.

Before we dive into some of the underage drinking laws in Florida, we want to discuss the legal drinking age, which is 21 in all 50 states. This means it’s against the law for someone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcohol. It’s also illegal for an underage person to use or attempt to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol, or use someone else’s ID to do it.

We encourage you to continue reading to learn more about the laws governing underage drinking. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our firm directly.

1. Selling Alcohol to Minors

Under Sect. 562.11(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes, it’s illegal for anyone to give, sell, serve, or allow alcoholic beverages to be served to someone who is under the age of 21. It is also against the law to allow someone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol on a licensed premises. A violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, and by a fine not to exceed $500.

If you notice, the law says it’s illegal for “anyone” to provide alcohol to a minor. So, under this section, even a parent can get in trouble if they let their underage son or daughter consume alcoholic beverages, especially at a restaurant or bar. This is also a law where many servers can get into legal trouble. If a server provides alcohol to a minor at a licensed establishment, he or she can face criminal charges and lose their jobs.

2. Lying About One’s Age to Obtain Alcohol

It is unlawful for someone who is under the age of 21 to lie about or misrepresent their age, or the age of any other person for the purposes of obtaining alcohol from a licensee. This includes using a fake ID or simply lying about one’s age to induce a licensee or one of their employees into selling or giving alcohol to an underage person.

It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages or attempt to purchase alcohol from a licensed establishment, such as a bar-restaurant, a bar, a nightclub, a liquor store, or grocery store that sells alcoholic beverages. Anyone who violates this law under Sec. 562.11 is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by no more than 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

3. Underage DUI in Florida

In Florida, it’s illegal for someone under the age of 21 to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .02% or above. This essentially means that a minor cannot drink and drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. In other words, the underage person can get a DUI after just one beer or one shot of liquor.

If an underage person’s BAL registers .02% or above, but less than .05%, their driver license will be suspended for six months upon a first offense. Going further, the young driver can face additional penalties, including up to $2,000 in fines and possible jail time depending on their BAL and if there were aggravating factors present (e.g. a high BAL, or someone else was injured or killed as a result of the impaired driving).

Are you, or someone you love facing alcohol charges in Brandon? Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with a member of our defense team.