Underage Drinking: Understanding Florida’s MIP Laws
Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on February 23, 2016
While it may seem fun, underage drinking is never a good idea. This is particularly true when you consider that the Florida laws that deal with underage drinking have become increasingly stringent over the years. Punishment for underage drinking can impact more people than just the intoxicated teen. There can be legal consequences for any minor who transports or possesses alcohol. There are also legal consequences for anyone who provides alcohol to minors. Simply selling or serving alcohol to minors may result in serious legal consequences. If your teen has been charged with underaged drinking or if you have been accused or providing alcohol to minors, this article will help you understand Florida’s underage drinking laws.
Defining Minor in Possession of Alcohol
Florida’s Minor in Possession of Alcohol laws establish 21 as the legal drinking age and it illegal for minors to drink, transport or sell alcohol. 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 or under their control.
The Consequences of Underage Drinking
Under Florida law, the possession of alcoholic beverages by minors is a generally a second-degree misdemeanor. Teens convicted of this crime may face serious penalties which include:
- First Offense: a second degree misdemeanor, $500 fine and serve up to 60 days in jail.
- Second Offense: a first degree misdemeanor, $1,000 fine and serve up to one year in jail.
Additionally, the court may direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to deny, revoke or suspend a teen’s driver’s license and driving privileges. Similar to charges related to underage drinking, the length of time a minor’s driving license is suspended increases if a minor is a repeat offender:
- First Offense: license suspended for six months to one year.
- Following Offenses: license suspended for up to two years.
MIP Laws Make it Illegal to Provide Minors with Alcohol
It is also illegal for any adult to provide alcohol to minors. Anyone who sells or supplies alcohol to minors will 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, bar, or restaurant may face stiff legal repercussions for giving teens alcohol. You may face second degree misdemeanor charges and penalties which include fines up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail.
Seek Help From an Attorney
If you have been charged as a minor in possession of alcohol or any crime related to underage drinking, you should contact Moses & Rooth. We understand the complexity of Florida’s MIP laws and can help guide you and your teen through the process. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.