In the state of Florida, it seems that underage drinking rates are on the rise. It has been reported that the rate at which underage youth are engaging in unlawful drinking is higher than the national average, leaving Florida with the challenge of implementing harsher penalties for these activities. Not only are the underage youth being held responsible, but any parent that facilitates this type of behavior and any other individual that supplies a minor with alcohol can be held civilly or criminally liable, as well. Heavy fines can be waged upon a responsible party, whether partaking in underage drinking or simply facilitating it, so with unlawful drinking on the rise, it seems that these penalties will be doled out more frequently. In a 2007 survey of Florida students, it was reported that 55.6% of students admitted to drinking at least once in their lifetime, and that 31.2% admitted to drinking within the past 30 days.
These statistics include youth of all ages, however. In high school seniors alone, 78% reported that they have engaged in unlawful drinking at least once, and as far down as 6th grade, 9.9% reported that they had used alcohol in the past month. The epidemic is not just affecting college students who are exposed to fraternity parties and tailgating; it is now starting to reach youth while they are still in elementary school. The penalties that are being implemented into Florida law are becoming more severe in an attempt to curb this growing rate, however. With underage drinking costing the state of Florida about $4.5 billion in 2007 for medical costs, pain and suffering, and property damage, harsher penalties have since been put into effect. In 2010, Florida legislators unanimously voted to increase the criminal penalties for those who partake in underage drinking and for those who facilitate it. “Zero Tolerance” is the new campaign slogan across the state, and no one is excluded from the ramifications. Anyone found to be possessing or consuming alcohol under the age of 21, or anyone found to be providing it to a minor, is liable to be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. In further consequence, jail time, hefty fines, and the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license can also be placed upon a guilty party.
In the United States, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking— 2,000 of these deaths resulting from a related motor vehicle accident—and underage DUIs are only continuing to trend on an upward slope. With unlawful drinking beginning earlier and earlier for youth across the country, it is no wonder that people are up in arms to protect them against a debilitating or even fatal incident. Harsher penalties and stricter law enforcement are on the rise in an attempt to combat this epidemic, so if you have recently been charged with an underage DUI, it may be no surprise that the penalties you are facing are increasingly severe. It is imperative to enlist the help of a knowledgeable attorney, no matter what types of charges you may be facing, if you hope to defend yourself against stiffened Florida DUI
The knowledgeable team of attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. has handled countless DUI cases over the two decades of their combined legal experience. They understand how devastating a DUI conviction can be for someone’s future, especially for a minor, so they fight tirelessly to defend their clients against unnecessary consequences. If you have been convicted of an underage DUI, or any other type of DUI, it is imperative to contact a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. For more information about this firm, visit http://www.duiattorneystampabay.com/ today.
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