Bartending Laws in Florida

By Victoria Bailey - Updated July 24, 2018
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Between the tropical weather and the tourist destinations, Florida seems like the ideal place to have an exciting career as a bartender. The average bartender in Florida earns around $33,000 a year, and some make well over $50,000. It's not all fun and games, though. The state of Florida has a strict set of laws regulating who can sell alcohol and under what circumstances. Breaking these laws can result in a jail sentence, large fines or both.

Getting a Bartending License in Florida

While some states require a person to get a license or permit before they are allowed to serve alcohol, there is no such law in Florida. That being said, some employers, as well as some cities and counties, will require alcohol server training before being allowed to work as a bartender. Those with server training are proficient with customer service, learn all about checking IDs and recognizing minors and are more likely to protect a business from liability due to alcohol law infractions. Check with your local licensing board to find out more.

Florida Alcohol Serving Laws

The state of Florida has a strict list of who can and can't serve alcohol in bars. The legal age to serve alcohol in Florida is 18 years old, although many venues prefer to hire those over 21, which is the legal drinking age. There are a number of exceptions to this law, including:

  • People who have been convicted of any beverage law infraction in the past five years.
  • Anyone who has been convicted of prostitution or pandering in the past five years.
  • A person who has been convicted of a felony in the last five years.

In all cases, these exceptions apply to those convicted in Florida or any other state, or in federal court.

Dealing With Customers

It's a bartender's responsibility to make sure that everyone he serves is of legal drinking age, at least 21 years old. Servers should check every customer's ID to ensure they're compliant. Bartenders can be found guilty of serving to a minor even by accident, so they have to be vigilant when it comes to making sure every ID card is valid.

Drink size and quality are regulated, as well. It's against the law to serve a nonalcoholic drink to anyone thinking they're getting alcohol. If a customer orders one brand of alcohol for her drink, bartenders aren't allowed to substitute a different brand without the customer's consent. The name on the bottle label must match the contents of the bottle.

About the Author

Victoria Bailey has a degree in Public Law and Government. She has spoken before state Supreme Court justices and her photograph is on the back cover of Bill Clinton's autobiography. As a former member of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Bailey worked closely with lawmakers to help set public policy. Bailey's work appears on numerous websites, and she's currently writing the text for a governmental information app.

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