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I Can Give My Teen A Beer In My Own Home – Right?

Teenagers drink.  Most of us know this, but some consider it inevitable and harmless.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers some sobering statistics on teens and alcohol:

  • More teens drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes or use marijuana;
  • Nearly 4 in 10 high school students report drinking at least one alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days;
  • Two in ten high schoolers report binge drinking within the past two weeks;
  • Forty percent of high schoolers who drink reported that they obtained the alcohol they drank from someone who gave it to them.

Florida’s statistics are consistent with national averages.  Some parents believe that, since teens are likely to drink in any case, it is safer for their kids (and perhaps their friends) to drink at home.  In fact, there are potential criminal consequences to providing any adolescent with alcohol, even your own child.

What does Florida law say about teens and alcohol?

Florida’s legal drinking age is twenty-one.  It is illegal for anyone under that age to even possess alcohol, with a first offense punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.  It is also illegal to:

  • Misrepresent your age, or someone else’s age, for the purpose of buying or being served alcoholic beverages;
  • Attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages if you are underage; or
  • Possess a forged, stolen, fictitious, borrowed, counterfeit or unlawfully use a Florida driver’s license or ID card.

In addition, if an underage driver is stopped with a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher (essentially, the result of one drink), the zero-tolerance law applies and the driver will  face a 6 month driver’s license suspension.

Parental or other adult liability for teen drinking

In some states, parents may legally permit their underage teens to drink alcohol at home under parental supervision.  This is not the case in Florida. Here, it is illegal to host a social gathering if you know that any alcoholic beverage or drug is being possessed or consumed by a minor and you fail to take reasonable steps to stop it.  The law makes no exception for your own children. If you violate this law, you may face a fine or potential jail time.  You may also face both criminal and civil liability for any harm done by teens to whom you willfully and unlawfully furnished alcoholic beverages.

Consult a Winter Park criminal defense lawyer

Underage alcohol use can have serious consequences for both you and your child.  Potential jail time, fines, and a criminal record await teens who drink and the adults who provide them with alcohol.  If you are facing criminal charges related to teen drinking, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner to protect your rights and your family’s interests.  The Winter Park criminal attorneys of Cotter & Zelman, P.A., represent clients in Orlando, Winter Park, and throughout central Florida.  We are committed to defending your rights, your record, and your freedom.  Contact us for a consultation about your case without delay.

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