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Alcohol-Related Criminal Charges

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

September 19, 2019

What can turn a get-together into a party? Alcohol. While alcohol is often the sign of a good time, too much can lead to unlawful behavior. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize the extent of alcohol-related criminal charges, but this blog post will show you the large number of criminal offenses involving alcohol.


Might as well start with the most well-known criminal charge in existence, a driving while under the influence (DUI) charge. In Florida, someone commits a DUI when they have physical control of a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

However, a cop can arrest someone for a DUI even if their BAC is under a 0.08% as long as the cop believes the driver is a danger to themselves or others due to the alcohol in their system.

While a DUI is the best known alcohol-related criminal charge, there is another vehicle-related criminal charge: open container laws.

Open Container

It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle in Florida. You may think this law only applies to drivers, but that’s not the case. Here is a direct quote from the Florida Statues website,

“It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this section for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the state or while a passenger in or on a vehicle being operated in the state.”

Additionally, any open container found in a nonpassenger part of the vehicle will be attributed to the driver if it is not in control of a passenger.

You may also think that drinking in a vehicle that’s parked is fine, but that’s not the case. It is unlawful to have an open container in a vehicle that is parked or stopped within a road.

However, exemptions apply for specific vehicles like motor homes, buses, and others.

Drunk & Disorderly

It is legal to drink in public in Florida, but it is not lawful to act disorderly while intoxicated. Paraphrasing from the Florida statutes page, no person can be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property. Additionally, no intoxicated person can cause a public disturbance in a public place or on a public conveyance.

A “public disturbance” casts a wide net over a variety of acts that may disturb the peace. Yelling, annoying others, and otherwise making a fuss while drunk could result in criminal penalties for the accused.

Minor in Possession

A minor can never possess alcohol under any circumstances. Therefore, if a minor is found in possession of alcohol, he or she could face minor in possession criminal charges. While not as severe as DUI penalties, minor in possession charges could result in fines, substance abuse counseling, and similar penalties.

Have You Been Accused?

If you or a loved one has been accused of committing an alcohol-related criminal offense, you have the right to hire an attorney for your case. Hager & Schwartz is an award-winning law firm stationed in Broward, Miami, and Volusia.

Over the years we have helped thousands of clients fight for their rights against the long arm of the law. If you’re ready for a strong defense, we’re ready to hear from you!

Call (386) 693-1637 now for an immediate consultation concerning your criminal charges.