The Penalties for Underage Drinking & Driving in Florida

Each March, weary college students close their textbooks and flock to their favorite destination locations to relax, party, and recharge for the upcoming school weeks. With its gorgeous beaches, world-famous attractions, and rocking nightlife scene, it’s easy to see why Florida is considered one of the most popular spots for both local and vacationing spring breakers.

However, before you take a swig and start the party, it’s important to understand Florida’s zero-tolerance policy regarding underage drinking and driving. In Florida, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol (with no exceptions) and/or operate a vehicle while intoxicated. In fact, an underage driver can face serious DUI charges and penalties if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level tests at .02% or higher.

According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, law enforcement officials in Florida arrested 32,727 intoxicated and underage drivers in 2017 alone. State lawmakers have been paying attention, and, after reviewing alarming collision and fatality statistics, have enacted and enforced strict laws – and even harsher penalties – that specifically target negligent minors.

You could face the following penalties if you’re convicted of an underage DUI in Florida:

  • First Offense (penalties range depending on your BAC level):
    • Fines between $500-$2,000
    • Incarceration as determined by the judge (if BAC is .08%+)
    • Vehicle impoundment
    • Ignition interlock device
    • License suspension for 6 months per Florida Statutes 322.2616
    • License suspension for 12-18 months if the driver continually refuses to take a breath, blood, or urine test (Florida Statutes 316.1932)
    • Completion of an alcohol education program
    • Mandatory evaluation at an addiction facility
    • 50 hours of community service
  • Second offense
    • Fines between $1,000-$4,000
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • License suspension for 1 year
    • Vehicle impoundment
    • Ignition interlock device
    • Completion of an alcohol education program
    • Mandatory evaluation at an addiction facility
    • 50+ hours of community service

An underage driver can also face these additional charges:

  • Various moving violations
  • Minor in possession
  • Soliciting alcohol
  • Distributing alcohol to minors
  • Possession of false identification

Under Section 562.111 of the Florida Statutes, underage possession of an alcoholic beverage is a second degree misdemeanor that warrants costly fines, jail time, and license suspension. This crime, on top of your DUI conviction, will appear on your juvenile criminal record, ultimately impacting your ability to attend college, earn scholarships, rent property, or hold gainful employment. Plus, your insurance company may increase your monthly premium or refuse to renew your policy entirely if you’re convicted of an underage DUI.

Facing Underage DUI Charges? Call Today.

Being arrested for an underage DUI can be a terrifying and stressful experience. However, the last thing you want to do is plead guilty and simply accept the resulting administrative and criminal penalties. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate this multifaceted legal process alone. If you require legal representation, look no further than the trial-tested Okaloosa County DUI attorneys at Chesser & Barr, P.A. We have a comprehensive understanding of Florida’s traffic and DUI laws, giving us a clear advantage when it comes to fighting your intoxicated driving charges. During your appointment, we can discuss your case, evaluate the laws and policies surrounding your arrest, and plan a litigation strategy that protects your legal rights and driving privileges.

Contact Chesser & Barr, P.A. at (850) 610-4585 to schedule a consultation today.