Whether you’re visiting the Sunshine State for the first time or consider yourself an in-the-know local, it pays to understand the ins and outs of Florida alcohol laws. From what days you can purchase alcohol to penalties you may incur for drinking underage or driving while under the influence, these are the Florida alcohol laws you need to know to remain safe and on the right side of the law.
Please note that this article is not intended to be an exhaustive list of Florida alcohol laws, nor should it be used as legal advice.
Instead, this is merely designed to give you a better idea of Florida alcohol laws so you can be safe and happy while enjoying yourself responsibly.
Alcohol and Driving
First, it’s important to note that when it comes to alcohol and driving, Florida is like every other state in America: driving while intoxicated (DWI) is not tolerated, and can be met with extremely heavy penalties depending on whether it’s your first offense or you’re a multiple offender. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Florida alcohol laws related to driving:
- The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08. Drivers who are under the age of 21 are held to a much stricter BAC limit of.02 —if they exceed this amount, they are liable for DWI punishments, including community service, fines or even jail.
- Florida alcohol laws encourage all drivers to undergo a breathalyzer if pulled over by the police, as you can face harsher legal penalties for refusing.
- Additionally, if you’re BAC is at least 20% over the limit, you’ll meet with much more severe consequences.
- You may not drive with an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of your car.
- If the containers have been opened, you are required by law to place the containers in the trunk of your car.
Penalties for driving while intoxicated can range from having your driver’s license suspended for a minimum of six months (first offense) to two years (second or third offense), fines and even jail time (usually this occurs after the fourth offense). The Florida DMV can also confiscate and impound your vehicle, as well as charge you heavy fines to get it back out. All persons convicted of an alcohol-related offense are required to take alcohol awareness classes.
Florida Drinking Age
The Florida drinking age is the same as the national drinking age, which is 21. Florida alcohol laws allow bartenders to be 18, and 18-year-olds can work in a liquor store provided that they don’t actually handle or sell the alcohol.
Purchasing Alcohol in Florida
Laws related to alcohol purchases in Florida provide different restrictions based on the day of the week and the type of store. Under Florida alcohol laws, beer and wine can be sold in retail stores, supermarkets, and convenience gas stations; however, spirits must be purchased at a package store. Alcohol of any kind is not sold by stores on Sundays, nor can any bar, restaurant or any other establishment with a liquor license sell alcohol between the hours of 3 AM and 7 AM on any day of the week.
Good News for Miami Residents—You’re An Exception!
There are some exceptions to this rule, as a few counties in Florida (including Miami-Dade) allow the sale of alcohol any day of the week, 24 hours a day.
The State of Florida does not allow anyone to consume an alcoholic beverage on public property; this can also be extended to private property where the owner has not given permission for the alcohol to be consumed.