Approximately 20 million people attend college in the U.S., with about 800,000 attending Florida colleges and universities. Students take much-needed breaks from studying during end-of-year holidays, returning to their homes to spend time with loved ones and unwind. This mass migration marks the beginning of one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year.
Students who are home the week of Thanksgiving often enjoy alcohol in the safety of their homes. However, Thanksgiving Day has been named one of the deadliest days for driving due to the high number of drunk drivers on the road. Additionally, drinking and driving tends to spike from Thanksgiving week through New Year’s Eve.
Celebrating the holiday season is as good a time as any to drink responsibly. Unfortunately, many people may have differing views on what “responsibly” means. Even if you’re not drinking and driving, selling alcohol to minors can land you in trouble with the law. Bartenders, waiters, and others in the service industry can also face repercussions from their employers if they’re caught selling alcohol to adults below 21 years of age. If you’ve been charged with selling alcohol to a minor in Florida, you need strong legal representation.
How Serious Is Selling Alcohol to Minors?
Selling alcohol to minors is a misdemeanor offense in Florida. Penalties for misdemeanor offenses may include fines and incarceration. Convictions for alcohol-related offenses may also result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
For selling alcohol to minors, a person who is convicted may face the following consequences:
- A fine of up to $500
- A jail sentence of up to 60 days
- Possible license suspension depending on the facts of your case
Additionally, establishments that sell alcohol to minors who then go on to cause a drunk driving accident may be liable for civil damages. Establishments such as bars, liquor stores, restaurants, and grocery stores may be subjected to lawsuits for selling alcohol to minors, even if the minor presented a false ID under Florida’s dram shop law.
Charges May Be More Severe If You’re an Employer
Restaurants and bars provide many opportunities for young adults to work odd hours that complement their busy schedules as students. Adults younger than 21 may work at restaurants and bars and sell alcohol to people 21 and older, but they may not purchase nor consume alcohol in the workplace.
If you’re the owner of a bar, club, or restaurant that sells alcohol and you provide an underage worker with alcohol, you may face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The consequences of a conviction for this offense include:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Up to one year of incarceration
Is Serving Alcohol to a Minor Illegal in Florida?
Whether you’re a parent of a college student who is not yet 21 or their boss, it’s important to know that serving them alcohol is a misdemeanor offense. The same statute that makes it illegal to sell alcohol makes it illegal to serve alcohol to underage persons. You may face the same potential penalties for serving alcohol as for selling it to anyone younger than 21.
Talk to an Experienced Alcohol Crimes Lawyer
For more than 30 years, Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated his career as a reputable West Palm Beach defense lawyer for alcohol defense crimes. He understands the complexities of criminal cases involving alcohol and has the necessary experience to craft a unique and effective defense based on the facts of your case. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete a contact form.