TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State law enforcement agencies and associations today joined forces to encourage spring breakers to have a safe celebration in Florida. The state’s beautiful beaches and numerous tourist attractions lure thousands of spring breakers every year, but bad decisions about drugs and alcohol can ruin the party and change lives forever. Throughout the month of March, law enforcement agencies will be out enforcing the state’s drinking age laws and working to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
The Florida Highway Patrol cautions visitors and residents in the Sunshine State to think twice before Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving impaired not only puts everyone on the roadways in danger, but drivers should also know that Florida’s tough DUI laws have stiff penalties that can leave offenders with an empty wallet.
"Throughout the spring break period, we will continue our enhanced enforcement efforts with special emphasis on impaired drivers,” said FHP Director Col. David Brierton. “Florida troopers do not tolerate impaired driving, so drive sober and drive safely.”
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages is responsible for enforcing the state’s beverage laws, including the state’s drinking age. The Division works closely with local law enforcement officials during the spring break season to identify underage drinking or sales of alcohol to minors.
“Florida is a wonderful place to visit, but we want to make sure our visitors have a safe experience and that means we’ll be actively looking for underage drinking,” said DBPR’s Secretary Ken Lawson. “Underage drinking is dangerous, and whether you’re underage in possession of alcohol or selling alcohol to an underage person, the consequences will be serious.”
Knowing the following information and tips can help you and everyone with whom you celebrate enjoy your spring break safely:
• The legal drinking age in Florida is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 in possession of alcohol can be cited for a second-degree misdemeanor, which can lead to costly court fees, fines and other lasting consequences.
• Selling alcohol to anyone under 21 or buying alcohol for anyone under 21 is also a misdemeanor.
• Possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle (in motion or stopped) by the driver and or the passenger(s) is a violation of Florida law.
• Plan ahead. Always designate a sober driver before any drinking begins, or take a taxi or public transportation if you plan to drink alcohol. A taxi or bus ride is much cheaper than a DUI citation.
• Take the keys. Do not let an impaired friend drive.
• Mind your meds. Heed the warning labels on prescription medicine bottles because even legal drugs can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
• Dial *FHP (*347) on your cell phone to report an impaired driver.
Drivers under the age of 21 should keep in mind that if they are caught with a Blood Alcohol Content level of .02 or higher, their license will be suspended for six months. A second offense results in a one-year suspension. The first offense for refusing to submit to testing results in a 12-month suspension, and a second offense results in an 18-month suspension.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has created a poster to remind spring breakers of the cost of a DUI. The poster is available online for download at http://www.flhsmv.gov/html/SpringBreak2013.pdf.