Summer Parties Lead to South Florida Arrests for Underage Alcohol Possession, Service

It’s summertime, school’s out (or soon-to-be) and throughout South Florida, teens and young adults are celebrating – fairly often with substances they aren’t legally allowed to have or consume (namely, alcohol).Fort Lauderdale lawyer underage alcohol

As Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys can explain, these scenarios can result in several different criminal charges:

  • Unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under age 21, per F.S. 562.111.
  • Unlawfully selling, serving or giving alcohol to a person under age 21, per F.S. 562.11.
  • Open house party where host knows or should know alcohol will be served to minors, per F.S. 856.015.

There are also potential civil consequences if the minor becomes impaired and somehow hurts themselves or is involved in an underage DUI car accident that injures themselves or others. Those cases will be handled by the civil justice system, separate from any criminal charges.

Florida Underage Party Busted, No Arrests Made

Recently, in what mirrored a scene out of the indie-cult movie “Dazed and Confused,” Treasure Coast Newspapers reported that what was intended to be a boozy, after-prom party for 300 high school students at an AirBnB rental in Palm City was shut down by police before it started, after a high school resource officer was tipped off.

Authorities with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office reported that when they searched the house (with permission from the local property manager and Austrian owner, both of whom were reportedly unaware of the monster bash planned by the 19-year-old who rented the five-bedroom home), they found an “enormous” amount of alcohol. The stash included Jello shots and mixers, stocked in two refrigerators and in bathrooms on the second and third floor. There were also two stripper poles brought in (allegedly for a bikini contest) and a huge stock of marijuana cigarettes.

Despite all this, no one was arrested. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys can explain this is because officers never actually spotted any underage drinking, no minors in possession of either alcohol or drugs and no one actually furnishing it to them. They lacked evidence to prove the teen who rented the property purchased or ever possessed the alcohol or drugs and they were not able to ascertain whether the vendor who sold the alcohol did so unlawfully to a minor. (He told them he did not buy the marijuana or alcohol, but declined to say who.)

Penalties For Underage Alcohol Sale, Possession, Use

  • Defendant had actual control of the residence
  • Defendant allowed a house party to take place
  • Minors consumed alcohol or drugs at the residence
  • Defendant knew minors were consuming alcohol/drugs
  • Despite this knowledge, defendant failed to take reasonable steps to prevent minors’ possession/consumption of alcohol/drugs.
  • Defendant sold/gave/served/permitted service of alcohol to a person on a licensed premises;
  • Defendant allowed a minor to consume alcohol on a licensed premises;
  • Person consuming alcohol was under the age of 21 at the time.