What Happens If a Minor Is Caught Underage Drinking? 

 October 21, 2014

By  LMW Attorneys

Every year, thousands of parents across the nation feel disappointment and upset when they learn their underage child has been caught drinking alcohol. While we want our children to learn from their mistakes, no one wants to see their baby in jail. Protect them by learning the facts on underage drinking charges in Florida.

In the state of Florida, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume or be in possession of alcohol. An alcoholic beverage is any drink that contains at least 0.5 or 1% of alcohol. Even if your child is not consuming the beverage, simple possession of it is enough to land them with an underage drinking charge.

The only exception to this law is if the alcohol is being consumed for religious purposes, such as when Catholics drink wine during mass.

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Your child can face a number of different penalties based on their previous criminal history and the circumstances that surround the arrest.

First Offense. If this is your child’s first offense, they will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. This is punishable with up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation and up to $500 in fines. In addition, your child’s driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months.

Subsequent Offenses. If your minor child has been caught with alcohol more than once, they will be facing a second degree misdemeanor charge. They could go to jail for up to 12 months, serve 12 months of probation or be forced to pay up to $1,000 in fines. For a second drinking offense, your child will lose their driver’s license for two years.

Most likely, if it is your child’s first offense, they will not spend time behind bars. Probation is the most common punishment for underage drinkers, and it may include mandatory community service, alcohol awareness meetings and probation meetings.

How Can This Affect Your Child’s Future?

When your child is charged with underage drinking, they may be able to get away with a lenient penalty; however it can still affect their school and work. Many colleges can choose to deny acceptance or expel students with criminal records. By being found guilty of underage drinking, your child is limiting their future.

Protect Your Child, Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A.

If your child is facing charges for drinking underage, don’t risk their future. We have experience defending minors, and will fight vigorously for our clients’ rights. Do what’s right for your child; hire a LMW attorney to defend their case. Call today at (727) 478-4125 or schedule your free consultation with a lawyer.