Ask the Chief – Alcohol – The Rules
As the holiday season is now upon us and parties and celebrations will be getting in to full swing, let’s take a moment to discuss some potential problems that may arise. There are several areas, where you can get into trouble with the Laws of the State of Florida, if you are not careful.
The first area that I would like to address is Florida State Statute # 316.193 Driving under the Influence (DUI) - laws of the State of Florida. The “legal limit” for blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) in the State of Florida is .08. This does not mean that you cannot be arrested for a lower BAC. A person can be charged for a Blood or Breath Alcohol Content of as low as a .05. It is not worth the risk of getting arrested for a DUI if you go out and drink more than you should to be able to drive safely. With that stated, there are alternate means to get home safely, such as a taxi, a designated driver, or a service such as AAA’s Tow to Go Program. The goal of law enforcement through the holidays is to see that everyone gets to their destination safely. We hope that everyone will plan ahead and make good choices when it comes to drinking and driving.
Another area I would like to discuss is the Open Container laws which are governed by Florida State Statute # 316.1936 - Possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages in vehicles is prohibited. In accordance to the Florida State Statutes, it is unlawful for a driver or an occupant of a motor vehicle that is on the road in the State of Florida to be in possession of an open container of a beverage containing alcohol. This law specifically includes vehicles that are moving and or parked on any road accessible to the public. It indicates that a person cannot sit on or in a motor vehicle with an open container that contains beer wine or alcohol. In accordance to Florida State Statute, a golf cart is considered a motor vehicle, and therefore the open container laws include and apply to golf carts.
Lastly, I would like to discuss the issue of underage drinking and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The legal age for consumption of alcohol in Florida is 21. Any person under 21 in possession of alcohol could be arrested and face criminal charges. Any person, who provides alcohol to a person under 21, can also be criminally charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. There may come a time when you are be approached by someone asking you to buy them alcohol, saying that they cannot buy because they do not have their ID, or they forgot, or some other story. If you do not KNOW the person is 21 or older, as yourself, please ask yourself if it is worth going to jail over?
Remember that as Law Enforcement Officers, our job is to protect and serve to ensure the peace and safety of the public. To that end, we need everyone to help us with these goals, not just during the holiday season, but year round by making good choices and drinking responsibly.
From the Town of Lady Lake and the Lady Lake Police Department, we wish you a safe and Happy Holiday Season. Always remember that together we can make a positive difference! Until next time –lets be safe out there!
Chief Ed Nathanson, Lady Lake Police Department, (352)751-1560