Under Florida Statute 562.11, “selling, giving, or serving alcoholic beverages to person under age 21” is a second-degree misdemeanor with a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500. The law targets bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. It specifically prohibits providing alcoholic beverages to those under 21 “on the licensed premises.”
When they wrote the law, they had customers in mind, but they amended it to include bar and restaurant employees after a 19-year-old college kid working the grill at a Tallahassee Hooters had a few beers after closing time. He died in a drunk driving accident on the way home. “The Christopher Fugate Act” makes furnishing drinks to employees of a watering hole a first-degree misdemeanor.
Providing alcohol to anyone under 21 can get you into serious legal trouble in a lot of ways. If you’re charged with a crime in Florida, it’s best to have an experienced attorney protect your rights. Call (407) 349-4211 for a free consultation with the criminal defense team at the Rivas Law Firm.
Can a Parent Give a Minor Alcohol in Florida?
The law addresses furnishing alcohol to a minor outside of a commercial setting in many ways. Most notably, lawmakers meant Florida Statute 856.015, to discourage “open house parties.” It’s against the law to make booze (or drugs) available at your residence, “or any home, apartment, condominium, or dwelling” “under your control.” A violation is a second- degree misdemeanor. If someone is hurt or killed or if it’s a repeat offense, the charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalty can be a year in jail, plus probation and a $1,000 fine.
You could face serious charges in other situations as well. Three members of a Florida State University fraternity face felony hazing charges because alcohol poisoning killed a pledge at an off-campus party.
Although these laws don’t specifically address providing alcohol to minors in situations other than house parties and restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, it’s still illegal under other statutes. For instance, it’s against the law for anyone under 21 to possess alcohol. So if you purchase alcohol for a minor, you are helping them break the law. Prosecutors could charge you with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Also, you may be opening yourself to a civil lawsuit by providing alcohol to a minor. Under Florida Statute 768.125, if you supply alcohol to a kid who does a lot of damage under the influence, you could be held liable.
Whether it’s a teenager in the parking lot asking you to buy him a six-pack or teenagers drinking at a party at your place, making alcohol available to anyone under 21 years old is against the law.
An aggressive and experienced Florida criminal defense attorney can defend you against charges of Providing Alcohol to a Minor and may be able to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. Call 407-644-2466 to talk to an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney at the Rivas Law Firm to fight the charges and protect your rights.