Alcohol and youth seem to go hand in hand in Florida, whether at a beach, home or college party. As part of our culture this may be, it is important to follow Florida laws on drinking.
Treating alcohol consumption lightly can lead to unintentionally driving while intoxicated, and the penalties for underage DUI come with high consequences in Florida.
Florida law on underage DUI
Just like with a driver of any age, those who are under 21 should not get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. However, unlike older drivers, underage youth have a lower limit for how much alcohol can be present in their system. Breath or blood tests cannot reveal a BAC of more than 0.02 percent, whereas for legal drinkers the limit is 0.08 percent. Law enforcement also has the discretion to pull over and arrest drivers who show signs of impairment regardless of BAC.
Vehicles do not have to be moving, either. Just being in physical control of a car is enough to receive DUI charges.
Consequences of an underage DUI in Florida
For a first offense, the penalty is a license suspension for six months, or a year for those who refused to submit to a chemical test. For subsequent offenses, the time increases to one year or 18 months, respectively. Youth can request a hearing to contend the suspension within 10 days. If BAC was 0.05 percent or more, re-obtaining a driver’s license requires completing a substance abuse course and evaluation. Parents will be involved for those 18 years old and younger.
There is usually a fine to pay, and very high BAC levels may also result in jail time. In addition to DUI, youth may face other charges related to underage drinking. They may also undergo discipline from schools and colleges, as well as lose out on financial aid and scholarships, depending on the severity of the case. Auto insurance premiums will also increase.