OPINION: Alcohol-related crimes warrant harsher punishments

More severe penalties should be put in place for crimes like underage drinking and driving under the influence. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

Alcohol-related crimes, such as underage drinking or driving under the influence (DUI), are a major problem in Florida. 

While crimes like these do have legal repercussions, they are not taken seriously enough and deserve harsher penalties. In order to lower the rate of alcohol-related crimes, Florida needs to increase both the fines and jail time for these offenses. 

First offense underage possession of alcohol is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. Those who are convicted a second time can face up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines, according to HG.org Legal Resources.

A DUI conviction is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail for first-time offenders, and up to $2,000 in fines and nine months in jail for second-time offenders, as stated by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. 

These penalties are clearly not enough, as these crimes are still shockingly common. 

Tampa is the seventh worst city in Florida for DUI deaths, with nearly four deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, according to the Law Office of Gabriel and Gabriel. Across the country, DUIs kill over 10,000 people every year, as stated by the Alcohol Addiction Center

Underage possession and consumption of alcohol is also a major issue. 

“Underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the U.S. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 3,900 deaths and 225,000 years of potential life lost among people under age 21 each year,” the CDC said on its website.

The likelihood of these types of crimes increases around holidays like Halloween, when people are particularly likely to drink more than normal, according to a 2022 report by The Recovery Village. College-age people drink more during this time than any other demographic.

The effects of alcohol can be very dangerous, both to the one consuming it and those around them. 

Alcohol is a mind-altering substance, it lowers inhibitions and can drastically slow motor skills and reaction time. This makes it much more difficult to think clearly and critically, and increases the risks of accidents and injury, according to American Addiction Centers.

Alcohol-related crimes like underage drinking and DUI are very serious and far too common. Harsher penalties are needed to keep these to a minimum.