For Walton County, Florida the weekend of February 28, 2015 earmarked the first of many large scale college spring break weeks, where college students embark on local communities like Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Seaside and 30A. The college spring break population, generates a spike in the number of persons (spring breakers) arrested or cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol (also referred to as Minor in Possession), Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses such as drug offenses. Speaking with a source at the State Attorney’s Office this week, last years’ number of citations for Underage Possession of Alcohol alone had reached tallied approximately 1000. (This Number does not include those cases that have since been successfully sealed or expunged from the record). This nearly doubled the 600 citations from 2012 and appears to be on par to those numbers from 2013. As a result of the increase in citations issued in recent years, and the general perception from law enforcement and the community alike that spring break has reached its tipping point, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has renewed its vow to crack down on college students again this year and will continue in its policy decision to arrest Underage Possession of Alcohol offenders rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear as in years past. Just today the W.C.S.O. issues a spring break message on its social media outlets Here is the link to review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOhsbiOHQIU#t=30
Here is also the story from March, 2014 in the local Walton Sun: http://www.waltonsun.com/news/walton-county-to-take-aggressive-stand-during-spring-break-1.284022?tc=cr
The most common offense for college students is ”Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″ (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111. For an individual who has received a citation for minor in possession(MIP), the law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage.
A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license. In some counties (e.g. Walton County), subsequent convictions may result in jail time.
If an individual receives a Notice to Appear or goes to jail for Underage Possession of Alcohol or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a local Walton County criminal defense lawyer. An attorney may be able to assist the individual in obtaining pretrial diversion or a deferred prosecution so the student may be able to avoid a conviction. Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense. In fact, some law enforcement officers in the past have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications. For more on past articles for Walton County Spring Break visit the links posted below or visit the Northwest Florida Daily News or Walton Sun for more information http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/spring-offers-no-break-for-deputies-gallery-1.110236 http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236 _MG_0261clr_web-1
Jeremy S. Keich is a local Walton County criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach. As a criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Keich has helped clients successfully resolve these spring break and alcohol related offenses. If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for more information.
WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.