Florida’s house party laws are being tested as four adult men were charged Thursday, June 30, with having an open house party in Fernandina Beach where alcohol and drugs were served to at least 16 minors. The house party was busted when a 21-year-old football player for the University of Alabama was found dead the morning of May 12 in the home after a night of partying. An autopsy revealed he had three drugs in his system – Methadone, Valium, and Soma. The four young men have turned themselves in and were released on $5,000 bond each.
The problem is some parents feel drinking is a rite-of-passage for young people and they would rather have their teen drink at home. But Florida Statute 562.11 prohibits an adult from allowing anyone under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming alcohol on his or her premises. The punishment can include a fine of up to $500 or 60 days in jail for the 2nd degree misdemeanor.
The 2011 Florida legislative session voted to toughen the penalties for adults who host house parties, increasing the charge to a first-degree misdemeanor for a second offense. It is still a second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense. Fines can range from $500 to $1,000 and jail time can include a maximum of 60 days. The stiffer penalties just went into effect July 1.
It is also a first-degree misdemeanor charge for any adult who allows a minor to consume alcohol or drugs before that minor gets into an accident involving serious injury or death. The adult will be considered the at-fault party and held liable for any injuries to or by the intoxicated minor.