Spring Break is almost upon us. South Texas beaches will be partying with hundreds of thousands of people at a time. Alcohol is every bit as much a part of Spring Break as South Padre Island and Port Aransas. (Yeah, I know, I know, so is weed.). Cameron County and Nueces County file hundreds of cases, sometimes even more, arising from Spring Break each year, which means it’s time for a little legal advice from a Spring Break Lawyer.
If you are going to drink during Spring Break, please be careful. That doesn’t mean be careful not to break a liquor bottle, although that’s a good idea, too. Plan ahead and make it a safe time, as well as fun.* Regardless of what you do, others nearby will be boneheaded, and their “fun” can spill over into everyone else’s fun. You may not have a choice to avoid them.
Spring breakers are arrested and receive tickets by the bundles. For every arrest, there may be dozens of tickets issued. Arrests and tickets lead to more than just money out of your pocket.
Collateral consequences can include jail time, probation, traveling a long way to go back to court in the county you got arrested or ticketed, lost opportunities because of a criminal record, driver license suspensions, and more.
It’s better to avoid tickets and arrests in the first place. For those who don’t, it’s imperative to find an attorney, like me, with a great deal of experience in the field.
Eventually, you may need help getting this kind of mess off your record.
Cops of all kinds come from all over the state and hang out on the beaches to get in on all the busts. Local cops are simply overwhelmed, even if at full staff and on overtime. Some cops come looking to gain experience. Some come to support their fellow cops. Some come for sport because it’s easy pickings, bears plucking salmon trying to swim upstream. Don’t be a salmon. If you are a salmon, give me a call.
Minor in Possession (of alcohol) – Just like it sounds, and it even includes your car. You don’t want this on your record.
Minor in Consumption (of alcohol) – Pretty much just like it sounds, but it’s not limited to a cop catching you while you are drinking.
Public Intoxication – Basically, this means you are so wasted, the cops are willing to swear you are a danger to yourself or others. It also could mean you are making trouble, and the cops can’t think of a real crime or are trying to keep you from committing a more serious crime while you’re drunk. You’ll also could wind up in the filthiest, stinkiest, and coldest cell in the jail, commonly known as a “drunk tank”.
Possession of Marijuana – Don’t let all the legalization news fool you. Weed is still illegal in Texas, even the tiniest roach with one drag left on it. Any usable quantity counts as illegal. Having a prescription from another state doesn’t matter. Some cops may overlook it, but the one you encounter could be one who won’t. I’ve seen cases in which cops vacuum or sweep the tiniest amount of shake to justify an arrest.
Driving While Intoxicated (otherwise known as drunk driving) – This is a huge topic, and it will definitely put you in jail. If someone gets hurt, or you are carrying a child, you could leave spring break with a felony.
Driving Under the Influence (of alcohol) – This is a zero-tolerance type of charge for underage drivers. For people under 21, the cop doesn’t even have to think you are buzzed. If the cop can detect any amount of alcohol, you are likely going to jail or getting a serious ticket. Any operation of a motor vehicle, even a golf cart, will do. You could lose your license to drive over this.
Other drugs – All these arrests frequently lead to other charges during spring break, and the most common of these are controlled substances. Where cops smell weed (or claim to smell it), they often find cocaine, Adderall, meth, and a host of other illegal substances. When a cop arrests you for one of those other charges, they’ll search you, and they may very well search the entire car.
*I know you have heard similar things already, and I know they’ll be disregarded by many thousands of spring breakers because they have been calling me for roughly 25 years. That’s okay. I’m not judgy about it. Shoot, you can get arrested or ticketed even when you haven’t had a drop to drink. Contact me, when you need a lawyer for your Spring Break mess. The easiest way to avoid an alcohol-related charge is simply don’t possess or consume alcohol. The same goes for illegal drugs. If you do consume alcohol, do so legally and in moderation, as in don’t get intoxicated. If you plan on drinking alcohol, have a plan in place to get back to your lodgings. Do NOT think cops will have the same opinion of your sobriety as you do. Have fun.