My Child Was Caught For Underage Drinking. What Happens Next?
Whether it’s with friends at the beach or at a house party when the parents are out of town, many young adults and kids under 21 will drink before they are of legal age in Florida. For some, the term underage drinking conjures up images of unruly teens doing keg stands. Others may think of it as nothing more than innocent youthful transgressions. However, the State of Florida has a different take on the matter. Plus, if you have a teen who has also been caught drinking with a fake ID, the punishments get exponentially worse.
What Are The Options If My Kid Was Caught For Underage Drinking?
Florida’s laws for underage drinking are harsh. However, many counties, including Pinellas, offer a drinking diversion program, which is an online course offered to first time offenders. The program is designed to help minors avoid a criminal prosecution. When the program is completed successfully, the minor will have the charge dismissed and removed from their record completely. The program is only offered on a one time basis.
What Are The Consequences For Underage Drinking?
According to Florida law, a child that is caught drinking or holding an alcoholic beverage is a criminal offense and can be charged with a misdemeanor. A minor trying to buy alcohol or gain access to a bar will also be charged with a misdemeanor. Furthermore, first time offenders will face punishments including a second-degree misdemeanor, 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Repeat offenders may face a first-degree misdemeanor, a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
What Happens If Law Enforcement Finds A Fake ID?
If a minor presents a fake ID to law enforcement to disguise their age, an officer will discover the ID to be invalid. As a result, the minor will not only be charged with underage drinking, they will be charged with using a counterfeit identification, according to Florida law. Moreover, using a counterfeit identification comes with a third degree felony, up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
What Is The Drinking Diversion Program?
Despite harsh laws, the state of Florida is fully aware that this beautiful state attracts Spring Breakers and the perfect place for parties. Likewise, beaches, great weather year round and tourist traps are tempting to minors to drink. Because of this, many areas in Florida help minors avoid criminal prosecution by offering a Drinking Diversion Program.
The specific eligibility for Drinking Diversion Programs throughout the state vary from county to county. Also, because acceptance into the program is never guaranteed, having legal representation to effectively argue the case is importance for placement.
In order to be considered, the following conditions must be met:
- Defendant must be under the age of 21
- Defendant must not have completed a drinking diversion program from another county
- Defendant must not have completed a drinking diversion program within the last six months
- Facts of the case must involve the defendant’s actions of attempting to consume, buy or posses alcohol. The facts may also involve attempting to gain access to an establishment that primarily sells alcoholic beverages
If Your Child Has Been Caught For Underage Drinking, Call The Law Office Of William B. Bennett For Help
If your child has been charged attempting to drink or gain access to alcohol before the age of 21 in the State Of Florida, call the Law Office Of William B. Bennett for assistance in getting them placed in a drinking diversion program and possibly having the charges dismissed. Call our office today at (727) 821-8000 today or contact us on our website here.