Florida Alcohol and Drug Laws
The following information was adapted from the University of Central Florida’s “Florida Spring Break Survival Guide,” produced in the Spring of 2006, Funded by A&SF through Student Government.
The Florida Legislature’s home page, Online Sunshine, has the full text of all Florida Statutes at leg.state.fl.us.
City and county ordinances are available through the Municipal Code Corporation at municode.com.
Florida prohibits open containers of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles. Drivers receive a moving violation of $73.00 to $90.00. Passengers receive a non-moving violation of $43 to $60. (Fla. Stat. 316.1936)
If the open container is in the physical control of a passenger, the passenger is cited. If the open container in not in the physical control of a passenger, the driver gets cited. An open container shall be considered to be in the possession of the operator of a vehicle if the container is not in the possession of the passenger and is not located in a locked glove compartment, locked truck or other locked non-passenger area of the vehicle.
Many cities and counties regulate pubic consumption of alcohol by prohibiting consumption or possession of open containers of alcohol on streets, sidewalks, parking lots, or beaches. An open container is any bottle or can which has been opened, or any flask, cup, or glass that contains any amount of alcohol.
If the police see you holding such an open container on any street, sidewalk, parking lot, or beach, you can be arrested for violation of the open container ordinance even if you are 21 years of age or older. If you are not 21 years of age or older, you can expect to be charged with the misdemeanor charge of possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age. If you have a fake id, you may receive still another charge. Under Florida’s revised fake I.D. statutes, many fake I.D. charges are felonies punishable by 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine!
In Florida, most open container violations and all first offense underage possession of alcohol are punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.
Many beaches prohibit open containers. Pay attention to signs. Cities and counties generally post signs at entrances to beaches and parks listing prohibited activities. By Florida law, alcohol is prohibited in most state parks. Please look for signs to avoid problems.
You must be 21 years of age to purchase, consume, or possess alcohol. First offense underage possession of alcohol is a crime punishable by 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. A second conviction is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $1000 in fines.
Underage drinking and driving
If you are under 21 years of age with a blood or breath alcohol level of .02 or higher, your license will be suspended for 6 months. If you refuse to submit to the breath test, your license will be suspended for one year. If you weigh less than 240 pounds, one 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one ounce of liquor may put you over this limit. The suspension is for 6 months and is effective immediately but the notice you receive allows you to drive for 10 days after the stop. (Fla Stat. 322.2616)
Providing to Minors
It is illegal to give, sell, or serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under age 21. The maximum penalty for violations is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second conviction is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Effective Oct. 1, 1997, Florida’s “fake I.D.” laws were amended to clarify that possession of any driver’s license or state identification card not produced lawfully by the appropriate governmental agency is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. (Fla Stat. 322.212)
Lending your driver’s license or state identification card to a friend is a crime punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Using someone else’s driver’s license or state identification card is a crime punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Both parties may have their drivers’ licenses suspended for one year. (Fla Stat. 322.051, 322. 32, 322.27)
Identifying yourself to a police officer with a fake I.D. is a violation of the laws cited above. It may also constitute resisting arrest or obstructing an officer. This is a violation of Florida Statute 843.02 and 901.36, which is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Signing another person’s name to a traffic ticket is a 3rd-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.
If you give a police officer a false name or use fake identification upon being arrested or legally detained, you are guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a fine of $1,000 for violating Florida’s new statute 901.36. If your unlawful use of someone else’s name or identification results in that person being adversely affected, you are guilty of a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000. You may also be ordered to make financial restitution to the person adversely affected. One point should be clear: if you are stopped by the police, it is a very bad idea to give the police officer a false name or false identification. While underage possession of alcohol is a crime, giving a police officer a false name or false identification is legally much more serious.
Finally, carrying a fake I.D. in a wallet with a real I.D. can possibly lead to arrest for example if a police officer sees your “other” identification during a routine traffic stop, you may be arrested for possession of the fake I.D.
It is illegal to sell, issue or offer in Florida any I.D. card or other document giving the age of someone without requiring proof of age. Penalties range up to five years in state prison or a $5,000 fine.
Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.)
The State of Florida is very tough on driving under the influence. Costs associated with a D.U.I. conviction can total up to $9,000 and include fines and court costs, DUI school, substance abuse screening, 50 hours of community service, and two 6-12 month driver’s license suspensions: one effective the day of the arrest; the other upon conviction. You can also expect your insurance to be canceled or the rates to skyrocket.
- Lawyer fees: $3,500
- Towing charges: $150
- Bail: $500
- Fine and court costs: $500
- DUI school: $215
- License reinstatement: $225
- Drug and alcohol evaluation: $100
- Alcohol treatment: $400
- Cost of supervision: $610
- Vehicle impound: $100
- Ignition interlock device: $600
- Loss of work: $300
- Three-year insurance surcharge: $1,800
As stated in Florida Statute 316.193(1), you are guilty of driving under the influence and subject to mandatory minimum penalties stated above if you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and:
(a) You are under the influence of alcoholic beverages or chemical substances to the extent that “your normal faculties are impaired”
(b) You have a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level of .08 or higher.
If you take a blood or breath test and results are above .08, you will likely be convicted if the test results are admitted into evidence. If you refuse to take a blood or breath test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you previously refused (from a prior event), a second refusal is a crime.
The arresting police officer will prepare a written report of your appearance, demeanor, and behavior, including the results of field sobriety tests. You may be convicted without a blood or breath test if this evidence convinces the jury that you were under the influence to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired.
If you are obviously intoxicated, the refusal may simply increase the length of your suspension. The only airtight defense to DUI is simple:
If you have anything to drink, don’t drive!
Federal and Florida Drug Laws
A conviction for a possession offense will result in a 2-year driver’s license revocation, even if an automobile was not involved in the offense. A plea of No Contest or Guilty to a possession offense will cause you to lose financial aid eligibility for at least one year.
Using and possessing marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, and the Drug-Free Workplace Act require that UT, which receives federal funding, have policies that prohibit marijuana use, possession and distribution on campus and in the workplace.
UT prohibits the use, possession and sale of marijuana — in any form — on all university property, including university-owned and leased buildings, housing and parking lots. Marijuana is also not permitted at university events or while conducting university business.
Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell or cultivate marijuana in all United States jurisdictions. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use. No matter what a state's marijuana law says, marijuana sale and possession is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. Where federal and state law clash, federal law always trumps.
Florida Marijuana Statutes
Drug laws can differ from state to state and that’s especially true for state marijuana laws. Keep in mind, your Florida driver’s license may be suspended for marijuana-related convictions unrelated to driving.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal and has the same penalties as when a person drives under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs or any other impairing substance.
Florida Statute 316.193 Driving under the influence; penalties
In 2016, voters passed a constitutional amendment, "Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions" ( Amendment 2). Amendment 2 legalized medical marijuana for individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician. Medical marijuana is legal in Florida, but it is still prohibited at the University of Tampa.
The City of Tampa passed an ordinance in March 2016 that made simple possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia a civil citation. (TAMPA CODE SECTION 14-62). This only applies to the City of Tampa, not to other parts of Hillsborough County. The marijuana possession civil citation ordinance is enforced by TPD and does not apply to other law enforcement agencies such as HCSO, FHP and DABT. You are subject to arrest for possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana by these agencies even within the boundaries of the City of Tampa.
Effective July 1, 2023, products that are intended for human ingestion or inhalation, and that contain hemp extract including, but not limited to snuff, chewing gum and other smokeless products, may not be sold in this state to a person who is under 21 years of age.
381.986 Medical Use of Marijuana
Flunitrazepam is a very powerful tranquilizer marketed overseas under the brand name Rohypnol. Possession of Flunitrazepam is a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Slipping a roofie into someone’s drink constitutes delivery of a controlled substance punishable by 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Having sex with a person dosed without their consent constitutes sexual battery or rape punishable by 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Nitrous Oxide (whippits)
It is a second-degree misdemeanor (Max penalty 60 days in jail, $500 in fines) to inhale, possess with the intent to inhale, buy, sell, or transfer to inhale an amount of nitrous oxide less than 16 grams. Distribution, selling, purchasing, possessing, or transferring more than 16 grams of nitrous oxide is a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fines.
For charts detailing:
This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney.