As the 2015 football season comes to a close, the Florida Gators remain in the Top 10 … of biggest party schools. According to the Princeton Review, the Gators rank #9 in the infamous category.
This is really no surprise. Gainesville is the quintessential college town, with nearly 70,000 students enrolled at both the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. Suffice it to say that many Gainesville students find themselves on the wrong side of Florida’s underage drinking law. But do they really understand the significance of such a conviction?
First, the mere POSSESSION of an alcoholic beverage under the age of 21 is enough for police to arrest someone for what’s commonly referred to as “underage drinking”. There is no requirement that the individual be intoxicated. In fact, one doesn’t even have to actually consume an alcoholic beverage at all … you can be arrested for an unopened can of beer!
Underage possession of alcohol is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 6 months of probation. Moreover, it is an enhancement crime which means that a second or subsequent conviction can be charged as a first degree misdemeanor which carries even stiffer penalties – up to 1 year in jail, a $1000 fine, and 12 months of probation.
Perhaps most significantly, if you are convicted of minor in possession of alcohol, the court SHALL order the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to withhold issuance of, or suspend or revoke, your driver license for a period of 6-12 months for a first offense and 2 years for a subsequent offense!
An experience criminal defense attorney can help you avoid these stiff penalties. If you have been arrested or issued a notice to appear for underage drinking or any other college student related crimes in Gainesville, FL, contact our office for a free consultation.