Florida Alcohol Laws
Where to Buy Alcohol
Beer, wine, and liqueurs can be purchased in retail stores, grocery, and convenient stores in Florida. Spirits are available in retail package stores. Bars and restaurants stop serving alcohol between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. Alcohol is not sold on Sunday, although a few counties are licensed to sell alcohol seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Florida was raised from the age of 18 to 21 in 1987, when all states adopted the age of 21. However, restaurant servers can be 18 as can bartenders, and at 18 a person may sell beer and wine in an off-premises establishment (meaning alcohol cannot be consumed on the premises). To transport, sell, or handle spirits, the worker must be 21.
Open Container Laws
Any previously opened bottles of alcohol must be carried in a vehicle’s trunk.
Drivers must comply with the state’s maximum blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent. Chemical testing that proves ingestion of alcohol above this limit means a driver is ‘per se intoxicated,’ and no further evidence is required to convict of driving under the influence (DUI).
Underage drivers (21 or younger) have a maximum legal blood-alcohol content percentage of .02 percent. Above this amount, they are subject to DUI penalties.
At .20 percent above the legal limit of .08 percent, a driver faces harsher repercussions. This also applies to drivers refusing chemical testing for intoxication.
Drivers suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs must agree to breath, blood, or urine testing under ‘implied consent laws.’ Penalties for refusing testing can mean suspension of the driver’s license for up to one year.
The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) will suspend a driver’s license for DUI conviction. In Florida, the first conviction carries a mandatory suspension of the driver’s license for six months; for the second offense, one year; for the third offense, two years.
A repeat offender’s vehicle can be confiscated in Florida, either permanently or temporarily, and an ignition interlock device can be required by the court as the driver’s expense. Required alcohol education or treatment can be mandated by the court.
DUI is a felony after the fourth conviction.