You may have watched the video, Guns in Florida Bars and Restaurants: What’s Legal, What’s Not?, and had additional questions about how the state of Florida regulates the carry of firearms into certain establishments that sell alcohol. To learn more on the topic so you can stay legal while you carry, check out this excerpt from Chapter Nine of Florida Gun Law, Armed And Educated:
Under Florida law, a person may not carry their firearm in “any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premise, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.” This means that the carrying of firearms into pubs, taverns, and the like are barred. Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(12)
Unfortunately, this law is ambiguous and is subject to different interpretations as to whether restaurants with bars, casinos, and other places of entertainment, that are licensed to serve alcohol, but serve other purposes, are prohibited for CWFL firearms carriers. In a response letter U.S. Law Shield received from the Florida Department of Agriculture, it was stated that concealed weapons may be legally carried by a CWFL holder into a business that serves alcohol, so long as it is not their primary business. However, firearms may not be carried into portions of the business where the service of alcohol is the primary function – e.g. the bar area of a restaurant. What does a CWFL holder who is sitting in the dining area of the restaurant and has to use the restroom to do if the restroom is located in the bar area or passage through the bar is required to reach it? Unfortunately, there is no case law or authority regarding this situation. It seems that under Florida law, the CWFL holder would have to leave the restaurant, secure their firearm in their car, use the restroom, retrieve their firearm and return to the dinner table.
NOTE: Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated Is NOT A CRIME
Florida Statute §790.151 prohibits a person from using a firearm when he or she is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, certain chemical substances, or any substance controlled under Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes (dealing with Drug Abuse Prevention and Control), when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired. The law does not require a person to be “drunk” or “intoxicated” but instead only requires a person’s normal faculties to be diminished as a result of alcohol or a controlled substance.
While the immediate meaning of “use” might seem to be shooting a firearm or displaying it, the statute defines use of a firearm as discharging a firearm or having a firearm readily accessible for immediate discharge. What does readily accessible mean? “Readily accessible for immediate discharge” means loaded and in a person’s hand. Florida Statute §790.151(1)-(2)
Therefore, while a loaded and concealed firearm may be brought into a restaurant that serves alcohol, a person who has been drinking alcohol to the point of being impaired or intoxicated should not have the loaded firearm in their hand, much less discharge it! If police suspect that you have discharged a firearm or held a loaded firearm while under the influence, they can ask you to submit to a chemical test (e.g. a breath alcohol test) to determine the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in your body.