2023 Spring Break Arrests in Florida

March 20, 2023 Criminal Defense

As winter thaws into spring, college and high school students receive a week of vacation known as Spring Break. In Florida, Spring Break is an extremely popular holiday for young adults to flock to the beach for an extended stay of sun and partying. While the break is meant to be a stress-free week of fun, it is far too often that partying can lead to criminal charges.

Already in 2023, one Florida county has made nearly 80 arrests for the offense of underage drinking. This page will provide information on the most common arrests made during Spring Break, penalties for underage drinking, and details from recent arrests made in Okaloosa County.

Most Common Spring Break Arrests

In Florida, Spring Break goers are arrested each year for a variety of criminal offenses. The following is a list of some of the most common charges given out during Spring Break in Florida:

  • Underage Drinking – Since many college students are between the ages of 18-21, there is a large portion who are not yet of legal drinking age. However, the week-long holiday has encouraged drinking and partying. Those who are underage and caught in the possession of alcohol or under the influence of alcohol can be charged with underage drinking.
  • Disorderly Conduct – Spring Break brings large crowds to Florida’s beaches. When students and young adults are out partying, there may be incidents of rowdiness, fights, or other disruptive behavior which may result in a disorderly conduct charge.
  • Drug Possession – During Spring Break, it is not uncommon for students to use drugs recreationally. This can lead to criminal charges for the possession of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, or other illegal substances.
  • DUI – Driving under the influence is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. During Spring Break, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to set up DUI checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. If any driver blows above a 0.08% BAC level, is seen driving erratically, or even gets pulled over for speeding and the officer notices the smell of alcohol, they can be charged with a DUI offense.
  • Assault/Battery – Similar to disorderly conduct, Spring Break’s party scene can often result in an increase of assault incidents. This is especially true in areas with a high concentration of bars and clubs where people may end up in a fight.
  • Theft – With large quantities of students and young people flocking to the beach, there are often belongings left unattended. This becomes an easy target for thieves to commit theft.

Important: While the offenses listed above are some of the more common arrests made, they are not the only crimes committed during the week of Spring Break. Law enforcement will be on the lookout for any unlawful behavior, and likely will not hesitate to make any necessary arrests. When going on Spring Break, we advise you to stay safe, responsible, and within the confines of the law to avoid any criminal charges.

If your Spring Break has ended with an arrest, it is in your best interest to reach out to a skilled defense attorney in your area.

Underage Drinking in Florida

In Florida and the rest of the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. That means anyone who is below 21 who is caught drinking an alcoholic beverage may face a criminal charge. Under Florida Statute Section 562.111, it is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to have in his or her possession an alcoholic beverage, unless they are 18 or older and working for a licensed premise to sell alcohol.

For a first-time offense, a person under 21 who is charged with underage drinking faces a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. However, if the defendant is charged with a second or subsequent offense, they would then face a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

OCSO’s 76 Arrests So Far

In only the first eight days of the Spring Break season, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) has already made 76 arrests for underage drinking as of March 10 of this year. According to the report, OCSO Sgt. Kyle Corbitt stated that most of the arrests so far are from locals and students between the ages of 18-20.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to Spring Break,” Corbitt said. “They basically banned alcohol so we’ve begun this so we don’t have an incident like what happened in Panama City Beach several years ago…We don’t want any sexual battery on the beach, or fights involving guns and knives and stuff like that.”

During this year’s Spring Break, OCSO is prepared by bringing in extra deputies for 12-hour shifts. The day-time deputies will be on alert and attempt to prevent underage drinking before the night comes around.

Instead of taking the Spring Breakers into jail, OCSO deputies are giving the offenders a notice to appear. A notice to appear is a written request by a law enforcement officer for a person accused of a criminal offense to appear before a designated court.

Another way OCSO has prepared for Spring Break is by sending out letters to resorts and condos to inform all guests that there is a zero-tolerance policy. They have also provided these guests with tips on how to remain safe during Spring Break.

The following is a statement from Sgt. Corbitt regarding the extra policing during Spring Break:

“During the nighttime hours, a lot of these Spring Breakers that have been out on the beach drinking all day, and a lot of them get intoxicated. That’s a big reason why we do what we do because nighttime is whenever some people have a little too much to drink and end up in situations, you know whether it be, sexual batteries, criminal mischief, where they go down to the beach and destroy like these beach vendor boxes and just cause a lot of havoc. We’ve seen them leave trash all over the place and roam around the neighborhoods, breaking into cars or stuff like that. And that’s again why our zero-tolerance policy has been working to prevent these kinds of incidents.”

What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested on Spring Break

If you are a student who has been arrested on Spring Break, or if you’re the parent of a student who has been charged with underage drinking during Spring Break, you should seek out legal guidance as soon as possible. Even minors can face harsh penalties for criminal offenses in Florida. To find out about the Importance of Criminal Defense Representation for Juveniles, please refer to our page here.

After being arrested for a criminal offense, contact Pumphrey Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience representing clients who have been charged with a crime in Florida. Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys will fight vigorously for you and your case, while making sure none of your rights are violated during the process. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Written by Karissa Key

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