All you need to know about buying and consuming alcohol in Florida
With strict alcohol licensing laws in Florida, you want to make sure that you stay on the right side of the law and not ruin your holiday with a simple mistake that could easily be avoided!
If you are travelling to the Sunshine State, and either you or any of your party are younger than 21, it’s important to remember that the legal age for drinking is 21; and this is strictly enforced. Bear in mind that this also includes holding someone else’s drink – even unopened – as it is the ‘possession’ of alcohol which is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment for 60 days, plus a fine of $500!
If you are visiting the theme parks or bars around Orlando and fancy a cocktail, or a beer, prepare for the server to ask for ID (it is common policy to ID everyone buying alcohol). Although it might be flattering to be asked, don’t get caught out – at Disney they request that you present a valid passport as well as another form of government-issued photo ID (your photo driving license should suffice). If you have any doubts whether your ID will be acceptable then contact the park or restaurants before you arrive.
If you do not have valid ID, the bar staff may not serve you – even if you look over 21. This is because they can lose their jobs and even if they accidentally serve someone under 21 they can be fined up to $500, plus risk 60 days imprisonment.
Holiday hint: When ordering spirits choose the ‘well’ (house) option; named brands such as Smirnoff or Gordon’s can be considerably more expensive. If ordering beer, then American beer will often work out cheaper than imports and always look for special offers on pitchers of beer.
If you do have a drink (legally!) remember that as with all of the states in America driving under the influence is not tolerated. For drivers over 21, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08% (as in England and Wales). Even if you are not a US resident you could find yourself in a lot of bother if you do get arrested, so make sure you have a non-drinking designated driver! This also applies to operating a boat under the influence – and the term boat/vessel is defined loosely to include using water skis, so bear this in mind if you are heading out onto the water.
If you are picking up some drinks for your villa, remember that supermarkets don’t stock spirits. You can shop for beer and wine in grocery stores and some petrol stations, but spirits can only be purchased from liquor stores, which stems from the belief that spirits are more alcoholic than beer/wines. Stores around Orlando are open on Sundays, unlike other parts of the US.
On the way back from the supermarket or liquor store, be sure to make sure that any drinks remain unopened! Florida law also prohibits having open alcohol containers in vehicles, with drivers receiving a fine from $73 to $90, while passengers will be fined between $43 and $60. Once you have your drinks, don’t be tempted to stop off for a boozy picnic – drinking in public is a no-no, and includes streets, pavements, car parks, beaches etc.
If you want to read up on the official Florida alcohol laws check out the website for more information.
It’s easy to stay legal while enjoying a drink in Florida, just make sure that you stick to the simple rules and you’ll have no problems!