Legal Sanctions

State law prohibits the possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under age 21. No person may sell, give, serve, or permit to be served alcoholic beverages to a person under 21, and it is unlawful for a person under 21 to misrepresent his or her age in order to obtain alcohol. Violation for the first of any such offenses is punishable by a definite term of imprisonment of up to 60 days and/or a $500 fine; a subsequent offense is punishable by a definite term of imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of $1,000. Possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under the age of 21 also may result in curtailment of driving privileges. Misrepresentation of age also will lead to the curtailment of driving privileges.

Under state law it is a crime for any person to possess or distribute controlled substances/drugs as described in Section 893.03, Florida Statutes, except as authorized by law. Punishment for such crimes ranges from first-degree misdemeanors (up to one year imprisonment and up to a $1000 fine) to first-degree felonies (up to 30 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine).

Specifically, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is punishable with imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000; possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a third-degree felony with imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine is a third-degree felony. Possession of more than 28 grams of cocaine is a first-degree felony, punishable with imprisonment for life and a fine of up to $250,000. The driving privilege also may be affected if any of these crimes are committed.

Trafficking (distributing specified large quantities of various controlled substances) is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to life and a fine of $25,000 to $500,000, depending on the particular illicit drug and the quantity involved. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony involving the sale of or trafficking in, or conspiracy to sell or traffic in, a controlled substance under certain circumstances may be disqualified from applying for state employment.

Penalties under federal law for drug trafficking generally are greater than penalties under state law. Convictions on drug-related charges also may result in forfeiture of federal financial aid. Punishments may include a fine up to $8 million and life imprisonment.

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