This year it’s your sister’s turn to host Thanksgiving for the family, and she lives in Florida. If you have children under 21, it is essential to know that the state’s alcohol laws may be stricter than your home state.
One sure way to ruin Thanksgiving dinner would be to see your child arrested for having a glass of wine with dinner. If a police officer sees you eating dinner on your sister’s beachfront balcony, they may notice the wine glass in your child’s hand and knock on the door.
Some Florida beach towns, especially those that see many young, out-of-own visitors, take underage drinking very seriously. They have no issue arresting an under 21-year-old and putting them in jail for a night because they have a glass or can in their hand. Then they press minor in possession (MIP) charges.
It will be infuriating and upsetting for you as a parent to see your child arrested over something you may feel is harmless. It is likely to be terrifying for your child, especially if they spend the night in a cell.
If your child dismisses the law as “stupid” and you fear they may head out with their cousins for a beer on the beach, explaining the possible consequences may convince them. A first MIP offense in Florida could result in a $500 fine, up to 60 days in jail and a driving license suspension of up to one year. A criminal record could harm their college application or job prospects.
If your child ignores your warnings and gets caught drinking, you will need legal help. There may be options to avoid the criminal record and reduce the penalties.