Just like the rest of the country, Florida takes drinking and driving offenses very seriously, and imposes harsh penalties even for first-time convictions. Both the DMV and the courts penalize drivers regardless of their age. A DUI conviction in Florida also has many additional consequences that can last up to a lifetime.
Florida Law on Teens and Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Florida is 21 years. Anyone under that age is prohibited legally from purchasing or possessing alcohol. A first-time offense is regarded as a 2nd-degree offense, which comes with penalties including up to 60 days jail time and a fine of up to $500. A further offense is considered a 1st-degree offense that can be punished by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
However, it’s rather odd that Florida law permits a person over the age of 18 to taste the alcohol, provided it is part of the individual’s curriculum as a student from an accredited college. It’s also illegal to possess or use a fake ID, and based on how the ID has been tampered with; the crime could escalate from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Additionally, when a driver who’s under the legal drinking age is pulled over, and their blood alcohol content (BAC) happens to be .02 or higher, the zero-tolerance law of Florida applies, and the driver will have to forfeit his or her license for six months.
Adult Liability for Teen Drinking
Some states allow parents to let their underage children drink alcohol, but only under parental supervision at home. However, this isn’t the case in Florida. When you know that a young person in a social gathering is in possession or consuming alcohol and you fail to take reasonable steps to stop or prevent it, you’ll be in violation of law even if the person is your child. The only exception for this is if the alcohol is used as part of a religious observance that’s legally protected.
If you’re charged with this, you potentially face jail time or a substantial fine. If an underage child takes alcohol from your home and then injures themselves or someone else, you might also face criminal liability, and even civil liability for any harm or damage caused.
The Legal BAC is Different for Minors and Adults
The BAC determines whether a driver is legally intoxicated. Aside from the standard road test lie walking in a straight line, a driver who’s suspected of a DUI offense will be asked to take some chemical tests, such a breathalyzer test. As mentioned earlier, the legal BAC for minors (people under the age of 21) is much lower that that of adults.
Many factors such as physical condition, weight, how long since the last meal, and medications affect how quickly an individual shows the effects of drinking. Generally speaking, the less a person weighs, the faster they’re likely to become impaired. In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI when your BAC exceeds:
• 0.02% for people under 21 years of age. This means a single beer could push most teens over the legal limit.
• 0.08% for adults
• 0.04% for commercial drivers
The official penalties for the 1st time DUI conviction include:
• 50 hours of community service
• A fine ranging from $500 to $1,000
• Revoking the driver’s license for up to 1 year
• An ignition interlock device installed in your car
• DUI school
• Jail and probation for up to 1 year
• The vehicle is impounded for ten days
• In case a person is killed, you may face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
• If you leave an accident scene after death, the prison time could increase to 30 years