Your best bet is to hire a criminal defense lawyer who serves clients in the county where you were charged (such as Okaloosa or Walton County) or a Northwest Florida attorney with experience defending tourists.
Know the Law, Your Rights, and What to Do if You’re Arrested on Spring Break in Florida
The majority of spring break arrests in Florida involve out-of-state students looking to blow off steam after a tough semester. While many visitors enjoy the warm weather and time off without incident, some will be in the unfortunate position of defending themselves in front of a judge.
The most common crimes committed on spring break include:
- DUI. A Florida DUI arrest results in an immediate license suspension. You will also lose your license if you refuse to take a breath test for a suspected DUI. Drivers under the age of 21 who have any alcohol in their system face underage DUI charges.
- BUI. Boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in Florida, and a large number of these arrests occur during spring break. Suppose you operate a vessel or watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, you face misdemeanor charges for a first offense or felony charges if the incident resulted in severe injury or death.
- Underage drinking. Possession of alcohol by a minor, even if it doesn’t involve a vehicle, can result in the revocation of your driver’s license.
- Drug charges. Marijuana and party drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, Molly, or methamphetamines can lead to charges of possession of a controlled substance and a potential penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment.
- Disorderly conduct. Public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, or unauthorized loitering can result in disorderly conduct or intoxication charges. These offenses can quickly escalate to charges of assault or battery.
Tips to Avoid Spending Spring Break in a Florida Jail
Your first time being arrested or detained by police is stressful. You will likely be flustered and upset, willing to say anything to pay a fine and go home. Unfortunately, paying the fine for a Florida criminal citation or making a plea deal is actually an admission of guilt, meaning you will officially have a criminal record that limits your school and career opportunities back home.
If you are a college student vacationing for spring break and you’re stopped by Florida police:
- Don’t consent to a search. Officers can’t search you without a valid reason or unless you give them permission. If they ask to search you, politely decline.
- Don’t run. Evading the police can result in arrest even if you haven’t done anything wrong. If approached, answer the officer’s questions respectfully but briefly.
- Don’t lie. While you should say as little as possible, it should all be the truth. If you lie about basic information such as your name or age, you’re giving the officer more reason to make an arrest.
- Don’t fight the arrest. If it’s clear you will be charged, cooperate and request a lawyer. Fighting back puts you at risk of additional charges, such as resisting arrest or battery on a law enforcement officer.
- Don’t trust your future to the public defender. You may automatically be assigned a lawyer to represent you, but this doesn’t mean you can’t hire a private attorney. The peace of mind and ability to walk away from a mistake that a private criminal defense lawyer offers is worth the fee.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The criminal defense team at Flaherty and Merrifield offers free consultations and convenient payment plans, making it easy for out-of-towners to learn their rights after an arrest. Call 850-243-6097 today or fill out our contact form to learn more.