Police in St. Petersburg are cracking down on underage drinking—particularly this time of year during Spring Break. In Florida, underage possession of alcohol is a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can land you in jail for up to 60 days for a first offense.
If you are arrested for underage drinking, there will be a record of the incident—even if you are not adjudicated guilty or participate in a diversionary program that results in a dismissal of the case. A criminal record can make it significantly more difficult for you to get and keep a job, rent an apartment, or get into college or graduate school. Fortunately, in many cases, an attorney can help mitigate the long-term effects of an alcohol-related arrest.
If you have been arrested or for underage drinking, the criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can help to safeguard all of your legal rights while your case is pending. Our attorneys may also be able to represent you in court and minimize the effects of any guilty finding or conviction.
Florida Law Prohibits Individuals under 21 from Possessing Alcohol
Because it is illegal for people who are under 21 to possess alcohol, the police can arrest a minor for possessing or transporting an unopened alcoholic beverage, such as a can of beer. In other words, the state’s underage drinking prohibition does not require that the minor actually ingest the alcohol. The minor need only possesses the alcohol.
Moreover, in Florida, a parent does not have the authority to override the law and allow a minor to possess alcohol. However, an underage minor between the ages of 18 and 20 may handle alcoholic beverages if the minor is doing so as part of his or her employment.
Drinking and Driving Laws for Minors
Not only are people under 21 prohibited from possessing alcohol, they are also subject to stricter laws regarding drinking and driving. While people who are 21 are prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more, there is a zero tolerance policy (that is 0.02 percent) in place for underage drinking and driving. If a minor who is under the age of 21 is caught drinking and driving, then a police officer can arrest the minor for driving under the influence (DUI).
Underage possession of alcohol carries serious penalties. If you are underage and convicted of the possession of an alcoholic beverage, you can face a fine of up to $500 and even 60 days in jail or six months of probation. The penalties for a second offense get significantly more serious—and can even include a year in jail. Fortunately, there are often many ways that an attorney can defend against allegations of the underage possession of alcohol. Even when no defenses are available, you may be able to avoid a conviction by entering into a diversion program or a deferred prosecution agreement with the court.
Call a Knowledgeable St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Underage drinking charges and convictions can have serious consequences. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can meet with you to develop a plan for how to best move forward with your case.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense lawyer, please call us at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online.