Ringsmuth, Day & O’Halloran, PLLC - Fort Myers Criminal Defense
Former Prosecutors

Underage college students and alcohol consumption

More than likely, you sent your college-aged student to Florida Gulf Coast University with a stern warning about drinking alcohol or doing drugs, especially since he or she is not yet 21 years old. Of course, you probably wonder whether your child heeded your words of advice and warning.

The state of Florida takes underage drinking seriously, since it could lead to catastrophic accidents for those who choose to drive after drinking. This is just one of the reasons why the state has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol and those under age 21.

What does that mean?

Zero tolerance means that your child could face the following consequences for the following infractions:

  • Misrepresenting his or her age, or the age of someone your child is with in order to purchase alcohol could result in a $500 fine, up to 60 days in jail and the revocation of driving privileges, along with court costs.
  • Possessing alcohol could result in a $500 fine, up to 60 days in jail and not being able to drive.
  • Attempting to purchase alcohol under the age of 21 could result in arrest if the store owner or an employee contacts the police.
  • Possessing a fake ID or supplying someone else with one could result in a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison and the permanent loss of driving privileges.

As a parent, you could also face legal consequences for your child's underage drinking. A civil court could hold you liable for any property destruction caused by your underage college student. Stores, restaurants and other establishments that sell or serve alcohol could also face penalties.

Since the state takes underage drinking so seriously, it is highly possible that your child could face disciplinary action from the university as well. Regardless of what happens with any criminal charges a student faces, he or she could face harsh penalties at school, which could include suspension or expulsion. If your child has a scholarship, it could be taken away.

Getting your child's future back on track

These are just the immediate consequences. A conviction could end up costing your child a career, limit his or her housing options, and otherwise interfere with the future you and your child envision. If police arrest your college student for underage drinking, the matter requires immediate attention.

The criminal charges and student code of conduct violation are two different things. The first order of business would be to determine your child's rights in relation to each and then to formulate a plan of attack to achieve the best possible outcome in both instances.

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