Florida Gun Laws: Can You Keep a Loaded Gun in Your Car?

Florida Gun Laws: Can You Keep a Loaded Gun in Your Car?
Florida Vehicle Carry Laws- Can You Keep a Gun in Your Car

This blog has been updated to reflect Florida’s new permitless concealed carry law:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 543 into law on April 3, 2023. This bill removes the need for an individual to obtain a permit for carrying a concealed firearm in Florida. As of July 1, 2023, it will be legal to carry a concealed weapon (including a weapon stowed in a car’s glove compartment) without a permit as long as the weapon is lawfully owned.

The eligibility criteria for purchasing a gun remain unaffected by the new laws, and restrictions on carrying guns on campuses, in schools, airports, courthouses, and polling places still apply.

Florida has many gun-friendly laws—but you may still face severe consequences if you disobey those laws.

Violating license laws, brandishing a weapon, or keeping a firearm improperly secured means you could face severe fines and even jail time.

At Mike G Law, we see a lot of clients who are charged with weapon-related offenses and may need the assistance of a skilled gun crimes defense lawyer. One of the most common questions our team hears is, “Can you keep a loaded gun in your car in Florida?”

The answer to this is not as straightforward as it seems. To help eliminate some of the confusion around Florida gun laws and keeping loaded firearms in vehicles, the experts at Mike G answer your questions and explain the laws.

Know the Difference Between Open Carry and Concealed Carry

According to Florida law, you can carry a gun in your vehicle if you have a license to carry, or a Florida concealed carry license. You may also store a concealed firearm in the trunk or underneath a seat without a concealed carry permit under certain conditions, or after Florida’s new permitless concealed carry law takes effect on July 1, 2023.

Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry

Open carry refers to visibly carrying a firearm in public.

In Florida, open carry is generally illegal (minus a few exceptions). While in public, you may only have a gun on your person if you are licensed and if the gun is concealed from public view. 

Open carry laws only apply to public settings. It is legal to carry or display a gun while engaging in an activity like hunting or camping, while at a gun range, or while in a private residence or vehicle.

In Florida, concealed carry is when you have a weapon on your person that is hidden from others’ views. Prior to July 1, 2023, to legally carry a concealed weapon, you would need a license from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These are also known as concealed carry permits. Carrying a concealed weapon while unlicensed may result in significant penalties. 

Carrying Firearms in Private Vehicles

When concerning private vehicles, the concept of Possession of Private Conveyance comes into play. Located in subsection (5) of Florida Statute 790.25, Possession of Private Conveyance states that it is legal for an individual to carry a concealed weapon in their car without a permit.

However, for this law to apply, you must meet specific criteria. Here are the requirements for carrying a loaded gun in your car prior to Florida’s permitless concealed carry law taking effect: 

  • You must be 18 years old or older. This statute does not protect anyone under the age of 18 years old at the time of the offense. 
  • You must have a viable reason to own a gun. You must have the gun in your car for self-defense or other lawful purposes, such as driving to and from an outing that involves lawful hunting or marksmanship practice. 
  • The gun cannot be on your person. The statute specifies that the gun must be “within the interior of a private conveyance” (in other words, inside of your vehicle) and does not protect you if the gun is on your person. 
  • The gun must be securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible. You must keep your gun secured and ensure it cannot be grabbed easily by any passengers. This may involve having it snapped into a holster, stored in a glove compartment, or put in a gun case with a cover (locked or unlocked). No matter where it is, make sure the weapon is not “readily accessible for immediate use” and well out of your immediate reach. 

The Possession in Private Conveyance subsection only applies to people who do not have a concealed carry permit. If you do have a permit, you may lawfully carry a concealed weapon in your vehicle according to Florida law. However, after July 1, 2023, a concealed carry permit will no longer be required to carry a gun in your vehicle.

Informing an Officer of a Firearm Present in the Car

When carrying a loaded gun in your car, you might be wondering if you have to tell a police officer the firearm is there if you are pulled over during a traffic stop.

Technically, no—there is no legal obligation to inform the police officer. However, you might want to bring it up in a scenario that seems more involved than a routine traffic stop, such as if you are questioned about an outstanding warrant or the law enforcement officer asks to search your vehicle. Telling the police officer can establish clear communication and prevent the situation from escalating down the line. 

When you do tell a police officer that you have a gun in your car, remain calm. Do not reach for the weapon, and wait for their instructions.

How to Renew Your Concealed Weapon License in Florida

This section explains the process for renewing a concealed weapon license in Florida. After July 1, 2023, this permit will no longer be required to carry a concealed weapon in the state.

Once you receive your Florida concealed weapon or firearm license, it is valid for a period of seven years. Exactly 95 days prior to the expiration date of your license, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) will send you a renewal form with complete instructions on how to renew your license. It is important that you follow the instructions and do not forget to renew your license before the date of expiration.

If you fail to renew your license by its expiration date, you may renew it up to six months after it has expired. Keep in mind, there is a late fee of $15 for renewing your concealed weapons license after the expiration date.

If your license has been expired for longer than six months, it cannot be renewed. You must apply for a new license.

Facing Firearm Offenses? Contact Mike G 

The State of Florida has laws in place to protect the rights of gun owners. As long as you comply with state requirements, it is legal to carry a loaded gun in your car.

But while the law may be on your side, some individuals may find themselves facing challenges over what is considered “readily accessible”. If you are facing firearm charges of any kind, you need a lawyer on your side to protect your rights in court.

Contact Mike G today for a FREE consultation to discuss your case. Our team is here to preserve your rights as a citizen and a gun owner.

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