The Fourth of July is a time for celebration. Of course, the first Independence Day was a tumultuous time for the nation’s founders–they were literally facing treason charges from the British Crown. Fortunately, few Orlando residents will find themselves in that kind of legal trouble today.
But there are other more ordinary crimes that can lead to your arrest during the extended holiday. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you head out to your July 4th celebration this year:
Minor in possession of alcohol. With schools and colleges out for the summer, many teenagers will try and take advantage of the holiday to consume beer or other alcoholic beverages with their friends. While the United States may have been founded on the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that does not cover underage drinking. It is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida for anyone under the age of 21 to possess alcohol.
Driving under the influence (DUI). The Orlando area is frequently jammed with people visiting local theme parks and other attractions over the 4th of July holiday. Combined with the local celebrations–many of which involve the consumption of alcohol, legal or otherwise–this usually means a significant increase in drunk driving. For a first-time offender, a DUI can lead to up to six months in jail and a 1-year suspension of driving privileges.
Breach of the peace. Section 877.03 of the Florida Statutes broadly prohibits acts that “corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” Generally speaking, this means it is a misdemeanor “breach of the peace” to engage in public fighting or engage in other kinds of disruptive behavior. Sometimes the broad language of the law can lead to comical results. For example, on 4th of July in 2015, Neptune Beach police arrested 22-year-old Lane Pittman for “breach of the peace” because he was playing the national anthem too loudly on a public sidewalk.
Disorderly intoxication. Having a couple of drinks to celebrate the holiday is fine (assuming you’re at least 21 years old). But it is a misdemeanor under Florida law to be “intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property.” This is known as “disorderly intoxication,” and it also applies to cases where a person is drinking in a public place or conveyance (such as a bus or train) and causes a “disturbance.”
Stay Safe This Holiday–and Call Our Dedicated Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys if You Need Help
The best way to keep out of legal trouble this Independence Day is to attend an organized public celebration. The City of Orlando will host its annual “Fireworks at the Fountain” starting at 4 p.m. The University of Florida in Gainesville will have its own Fanfares & Fireworks show at Flavet Field from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 3rd. And Walt Disney World has its “Celebrate America” concerts planned for July 3 and July 4 starting at 9:15 p.m. each evening.
Whatever you choose to do this 4th of July, stay safe. And if you are arrested for some reason and need advice on what to do from an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer, contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150