If you are on probation for a Florida DUI or another alcohol-related charge in Florida, you may be wondering if you can drink alcohol. Criminal defense attorney Mark Solomon is often asked by clients, “Can I drink while I’m on probation in Florida?” As with many aspects of the law, there is not a straightforward answer to this question. Several different factors can influence the requirements you have while you are on probation. We will shed some light on this topic below, but the best thing you can do if you are worried about drinking while on probation is consult with a criminal lawyer.
Following the Terms of Your Probation is Crucial to Avoiding Jail
When you are sentenced to probation in Florida, you need to take your sentencing seriously. You will need to follow every term of your probation. If you break one of the terms, you could go back to jail. Some of the terms of your probation may seem harsh or overly restrictive, making it easier for you to ignore them. However, you should remember that you are under the supervision of the court until your probationary period is up.
Sometimes, Florida courts award probation instead of jail time. In other cases, courts will require a defendant to be on probation after serving their jail time. In many cases, the court will sentence a defendant to jail time, then suspend the jail time. The court will require the defendant to complete a specified period of probation. When defendants violate their probation, courts often order them to serve the entire suspended jail sentence. Taking probation seriously is essential for avoiding jail time.
Drinking May Violate the Terms of Your Probation in Florida
To answer whether you can drink while you are on probation, we would need to see the exact terms of your probation. Courts have significant discretion when it comes to setting the terms for defendants’ probation. As such, the exact terms of the probation depend on the defendant's criminal history, the specific crime with which he or she has been charged, and the defendant’s personal history. There are some standard conditions for probation in Florida, and they can include the following:
Refrain From Drinking Alcohol “to Excess”
In many DUI cases, a judge will require that the defendant refrains from drinking in excess or using drugs in excess. We have seen many cases in which defendants drink a significant amount of alcohol on probation, claiming that they are not drinking “in excess.” A defendant can be found to be drinking in excess even if he or she is not over the legal limit. For example, suppose the defendant has had relationship difficulties due to alcoholism. Suppose the defendant continues to drink a significant amount of alcohol at night during probation, resulting in a domestic violence situation. In that case, the court may revoke probation and require the defendant to serve jail time.
Pushing the limit of what counts as drinking to excess has been the downfall of many defendants on probation. If you struggle with alcoholism or drinking to excess, it is wise to abstain from drinking, if possible, while on probation. If it is not possible, try to drink a minimal amount of alcohol, so you do not unintentionally end up violating the terms of your probation.
Suppose your probation officer arrives at your home and sees that you have a glass of wine on the counter. He or she may not say anything. On the contrary, if you appear to be intoxicated when your probation officer arrives at your home, you may have a problem and face charges for violating your probation.
Completely Refrain From Drinking Alcohol
If your criminal charge is related to alcohol or drugs, and you have a history of alcohol abuse, the court may require you to abstain from alcohol completely while you are on probation. When the court requires you to refrain from drinking alcohol, it is crucial that you listen and follow through. Any consumption of alcohol could be the basis for you violating your probation. Even if your probation officer comes to your home and finds bottles of beer, you could be at risk of violating your probation.
If you have any questions about your probation terms, we recommend discussing them with your criminal defense lawyer. Do not wait and test the limits to see if your probation officer will write you up for violating your probation. It is best to discuss any questions you have ahead of time to make sure you are clear regarding whether you are allowed to drink alcohol while on probation.
What Happens if You Violate Probation by Drinking Alcohol?
If you violate your probation by drinking alcohol, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If your probation terms require you to abstain from alcohol and a breathalyzer test reveals that you have been drinking while on probation, you can challenge the breathalyzer test results. It is possible that the breathalyzer delivered a false reading.
Contact a South Florida Probation Violation Lawyer Today
Have you been charged with a DUI? Are you on probation and wondering if you can drink alcohol? If so, attorney Mark Solomon is here to help. With decades of experience representing clients in DUI and drug-related cases, Attorney Solomon can provide you with excellent legal advice regarding your probation. If you have already been charged with violating your probation, we will protect your legal rights and develop a compelling legal defense on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.