Under Florida law, providing alcohol to minors is a crime. However, the crime doesn't just apply to private citizens buying or giving alcohol to underage drinkers. People who knowingly or unknowingly sell or serve alcohol to minors in Florida could be facing serious consequences under the law. The police regularly make arrests for selling alcohol to minors by conducting compliance checks.
In a compliance check, police officers will inspect local alcohol vendors to ensure that they are complying with Florida statutes on serving or selling alcohols to a minor or an adult under 21. Police will do this with the help of a teen recruit who approaches a clerk, waiter, bartender, or any other vendor, to ask for a drink. If the clerk does not ask for identification, if they sell the alcohol even after they know the teen's age, or if they accept a bribe, they will face serious legal trouble.
The Consequences of Selling Alcohol to Minors or Adults Under 21
What happens when a vendor fails a compliance check? At whatever point someone is charged with serving, giving, or selling an alcoholic beverage to a minor or underage customer, they could be facing misdemeanor charges and subject to jail time. A first-time offense for selling alcohol to a minor in Florida could yield a second degree misdemeanor charge. Consequences for serving minors alcohol could include up to 60 days in jail and as much as $500 in fines.
It is also possible the offender will face penalties from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles as well. Someone convicted of giving alcohol to a minor could face driver's license suspension or revocation.
Harsher Consequences for Employers Who Serve Alcohol to Minors
Charges are different if a minor is an employee of an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. If someone furnishes this underage worker with alcohol, then that person could face a first degree misdemeanor charge. Consequences could include up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Charged with Providing Alcohol to Underage Drinkers? Learn Your Defense Options.
If you face first-degree or second-degree misdemeanor charges for selling alcohol to a minor in Florida, your reputation, your driving privileges, and your livelihood could all be on the line. However, there are possible defenses to this charge.
One possible defense is that an attorney may be able to show that the minor used a fake ID to convince the clerk they were old enough to purchase alcohol, or that mistaking the minor for being older than they were was a mistake that any "prudent person" would have made. You could learn more about your possible defenses in a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa.
Do not wait to find the experienced legal representation that you need. Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. immediately to learn how a skilled Tampa criminal defense lawyer can fight for your future.