Quite a few students in high school and even more in college who have not reached the age of 21 will consume alcohol at some point, as alcohol consumption is a common factor in adolescence and college socialization. Still, just because it’s a common practice doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.
Whether you snuck into a kegger despite not being 21 or begged an older sibling or friend to purchase alcohol for you, if you get caught while under the influence of alcohol as a minor in Florida, you could face some very serious consequences.
Florida law is clear that the possession of alcohol by a minor is against the law in every circumstance unless you consume or taste small amounts due to a college course or religious ceremony. If you get caught while in possession of alcohol, even if you have not consumed it, you could face criminal consequences.
What consequences could you face for the possession of alcohol?
Television shows and movies might have you believe that if you get caught with alcohol or even drugs as a minor in Florida that police will probably just take your alcohol or stash and send you away with a warning. However, while that does happen occasionally, police officers have an obligation to uphold the law, including the law that restricts the right to possess or consume alcohol.
A first offense as a minor in possession of alcohol or attempting to purchase alcohol will likely result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge. That could mean paying up to $500 in fines and spending as long as 60 days in jail. If you wind up charged with another offense in the future, that second or subsequent alcohol charge will likely be a first-degree misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
You could face much more serious penalties for drinking and driving. Additionally, even if you were safely at home at the time of your arrest, you will lose your license for anywhere from six to 12 months for a first offense and up to two years for a second or additional offenses.
Different situations create different defense options
It is possible that you could defend against allegations of possession. Actual possession is the legal term for what happens if police catch you holding alcohol or having it physically in your body at the time of an arrest. Constructive possession is a term that refers to your liability if police find alcohol in your room or a space that you have access to and control over.
In other words, you don’t even need to be present to wind up facing charges. The more loosely tied you are to the alcohol that law enforcement finds, the greater the number of options you have for defending yourself against the charges. From claiming a lack of knowledge to establishing a legal right to taste or try alcohol due to school or your faith, there are many potential defense options.
While a minor in possession charge may seem like a lesser offense compared with violent crimes, it can still have a lasting impact on your educational and career prospects. You owe it to yourself and your future to explore every option available to you.