Jonathan Blecher

Can I Be Fined for Not Wearing a Mask in South Florida?

No Mask, More Legal Trouble

South Florida counties are strengthening efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks have long been required, but many people still aren’t complying. Thus, law enforcement officials are tasked with issuing civil fine notices or even arrest people who aren’t wearing a mask (indoors and outdoors) in an effort to encourage everyone to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Each South Florida county implemented its own rules regarding fines and possible arrest for mask-less people:

Miami-Dade County

  • Up to a $100 fine for non-businesses
    • Community service options are available for those who can’t afford to pay it
  • $500 civil infraction for businesses where a violation occurred
  • Closure of business for violations
  • Second-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to $500 fines and/or up to 180 days in jail

Exceptions include:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • People with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask
  • People who are hearing-impaired or communicating with someone who is
  • People who are eating or drinking
  • People who are swimming or engaging in vigorous exercise like playing basketball
  • People who are in their car or home

Miami

  • $100 fine for first and second offenses
    • First offenders may get a free mask if it’s available
  • Arrest or notice to appear in court for three or more offenses

Miami Beach

  • $50 civil citations for anyone not wearing a mask

Broward County

  • Civil enforcement action consisting of $1,000 per day per violation, or up to $15,000 per violation for knowing and irreparable violations
  • Criminal enforcement action consisting of a second-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to $500 per day and/or up to 60 days in prison

Palm Beach County

  • Civil enforcement action consisting of up to a $250 fine for a first violation and up to $500 for each added violation

Monroe County (including Key West)

  • Code violation or civil citation resulting in up to a $500 fine and/or up to 60 days in jail
  • In Key West, the law requires people to wear masks in public — including outside, with a few exceptions such as people with chronic medical conditions and brides and grooms during their wedding ceremony and photo-taking. That means wearing one while at the gym or outdoors while running, biking or walking your dog. There are no exceptions for exercise.
  • Key West’s law is as strict as the one in Miami-Dade, the epicenter for the novel coronavirus pandemic in South Florida. Key West’s law on masks is actually tougher than Monroe County’s mask ordinance, which requires people to wear a mask indoors and also outside unless they can keep six feet away from others
  • The Key West ordinance has already drawn one lawsuit in county court by a local business owner who says it is unconstitutional. And in an order signed Monday, a Palm Beach County judge ruled on a lawsuit against that county’s mask mandate, saying he finds that “no constitutional right is infringed,” the Palm Beach Post reported.

Needless to say, it’s essential to wear a mask when you’re out in public or a public space, whether it be indoors or outdoors. There is far too much to lose for not wearing a mask, and the consequences could affect your livelihood in devastating ways. COVID-19 has already impacted countless aspects of our lives, so it’s best to avoid adding another threat to your plate by wearing a mask. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a health and safety issue.

If you got fined or arrested for being mask-less, feel free to contact me at 305-330-1976 to get your questions answered. I understand it’s difficult to transition into and accommodate these uncertain times, but you shouldn’t have to suffer steep fines and jail time as a result. Thus, you can count on Miami Criminal Lawyer Jonathan Blecher, P.A. to help you get through tough times. I’m available for telephonic or video-conference free consultations.