It has been a popular destination for generations of college students. Even parents remember the good times. Spring Break, in many ways, is a rite of passage for young adults. Traveling with friends, learning independence away from home….it’s all part of the experience.
However, those who visit the white sand beaches of Okaloosa County or Walton County may have to deal with increasing scrutiny from law enforcement especially as it relates to underage drinking. The result of the increased police presence has led to many being charged with criminal offenses.
Several years ago, Panama City Beach was inundated with Spring Breakers looking for the ultimate party experience. Because of this, Bay County officials felt that they had lost something from a tourism (marketing and value) standpoint. Walton County took notice.
The last thing they wanted was to have their pristine South Walton Beaches dubbed “Spring Break Central.” South Walton has been traditionally conservative and the marketing of the area was one that caters to a beach experience for mostly upper-class families.
That is, in large part why Spring Break 2014 became an “arrest-fest” for underage drinking. Hundreds of young people were charged and arrested for either Possession of Alcohol by a Person Under 21, or Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Patrols blanketed the beaches of: Okaloosa Island, Destin, Miramar Beach, Grayton Beach, Sandestin, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach, and every point in between.
Police also targeted night clubs, resorts, and condos – searching for everything from drugs to fake IDs, which even resulted in some felony arrests. Some of these individuals were also charged with Resisting Arrest, Obstruction of Justice, or even Tampering with Evidence. Others were arrested for Possessing Marijuana (Cannabis) or other drugs.
However, the majority were charged with Possession of Alcohol. The court system, in turn, attempted to fast-track the resolution of these cases. Some students entered pleas to the charges while they were still there. The problem was that many ended up with a criminal record when they left.
Others opted for legal representation and enlisted the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to mitigate the damage done by the arrest.
In most cases, this led to substantially better case outcomes and for many clients – their arrests were eventually expunged.
If you are a college student, or the parent of a college student that has been cited or arrested in Destin, Ft Walton Beach or in Walton County on Spring Break, call me at (850) 362-6655 – the call is free.