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Is it a crime to use a firearm while drunk?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Law-abiding gun owners are expected to be responsible for the way they use their firearms. Although Florida allows the permitless ownership of firearms, gun owners must still respect rules such as the prohibition on open carry.

Another rule gun owners in the state should abide by is the law on using firearms while drunk. Under Florida law, it’s unlawful for anyone to use a gun while intoxicated.

Yes, it’s a crime to use a firearm while drunk. What are the penalties you face if you violate this law?

The law on drunk gun use

According to Florida law, it’s unlawful for any person under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance to use a firearm while inebriated. The law also clarifies that “using a firearm” means discharging the weapon or even having a gun readily accessible for shooting.

This means that if an officer catches a drunk person with a concealed handgun still in its holster, the officer can charge the inebriated individual with “using” a firearm while drunk.

Using a firearm while drunk is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Alcohol testing

To determine if you’re drunk at the time of the offense, an officer might ask you to submit to a chemical test to measure the alcohol levels in your blood or urine. This is very similar to the tests administered to drivers charged with driving under the influence.

While you can refuse chemical testing, it can be admitted as evidence against you during your trial.

The penalties for drunk gun use

If a court convicts you for using a firearm while drunk, you potentially face up to 60 days of imprisonment and $500 in fines. This might sound like a slap on the wrist compared to the penalties for more severe crimes, but the offense still appears on your criminal record, which can impact your ability to secure a job or loan.

In conclusion, it’s a crime to “use” a firearm while plastered. You can break the law even if you’ve kept a concealed handgun on your person and never drew it out while drunk; an officer only needs to know that you’re drunk and armed to charge you. If you face charges, don’t attempt to attend the court hearing unprepared. A legal professional may be able to advise you on your defense options and even represent you in court.