Friday, February 19, 2010

Beach Booze Bust

Party animal: * * * Despite his cultural deficiencies, the Party Animal often lives quite a luxurious lifestyle. They are known to rely on their parents for protection and sustenance until, on average, they reach the age of 25 and can no longer rely on their parents' stability of mind for food and money.
At last! Someone is trying to sober up the Mardi Gras revelers on Pensacola Beach. This past weekend, county deputy sheriffs "enforced a 20-year-old ordinance banning alcohol consumption in county parking lots, and 50 deputies were on hand to issue $100 citations for offenders."

Fifty-seven citations were issued. That's only a smidgen over one per deputy, hardly a police raid. You can be sure many more violators weren't cited by the deputies.

Look, we're not prudish. And we sure don't claim teetotaler status. But it's undeniable: For many residents and beach lovers, the Mardi Gras parade on Pensacola Beach always has been high on the list of events to avoid. For us, it's right below street raves, kickboxing, and dog fights.

Our own experience, to judge by the stories of friends and neighbors, is typical. When we think of the parade, we recall little more than ugly pushing and shoving by rude drunks; watching fist fights break out in the streets; insane pickup drivers trying to squeeze their square pegs into tiny holes; and unbelievable litter, everywhere.

This week's Gulf Breeze News quotes a number of those who were cited complaining that they were "targeted" by law enforcement. That's a hoot. Of course they were targeted! They were violating a county ordinance! That they weren't the only ones violating it is hardly a defense.

A few years ago, a veteran beach deputy confided to us that on warm weather weekend evenings, they know that statistically fully 50 percent of the drivers leaving Pensacola Beach after 9 pm are legally intoxicated or high. After 11 pm, he said, it's closer to 90 percent.

Nowhere near that many are cited for DUI, of course. That would be bad for business -- never a good reason, but probably the one upper-most in the minds of certain civic leaders.

More to the point, law enforcement without discretion would require a police force ten or twenty times bigger than the county can afford or the public is willing to sustain. And, it assuredly would lead to a backlash no one wants.

But there's another thing the deputy said: most of those intoxicated drivers leaving the beach on weekend evenings are well behaved, under control, and to all appearances they're driving cautiously enough not to endanger themselves or others. Unfortunately, that couldn't be said of as many drunks at the typical Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras parade.

The exercise of reasonable discretion in law enforcement at the parade should play a large role. 'Selective enforcement' is a must. Otherwise, we'd all be up to our armpits in deputy sheriffs and bail bondsmen.


Anonymous said...

If they arrest all the drunks at the parade then who would be left to live in Milton?

Anonymous said...

Not fair. Those who are drunk at that parade, and all other parades, are from every area, and not just Milton.

Good points made though, and a welcome change of attitude by the local law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Click here: DUI Gulag...MADD's political agenda to force prohibition

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:14:

MADD is a national organization with a political agenda. Far more important is the personal agenda. I could not live with myself if I chose to get drunk and drive my vehicle and ended up taking the life of an innocent person. If one of my own children did it, I think it would destroy me.

That should be the consideration. How many innocent lives need to be taken due to poor choices?

Have a drink, be happy, but do so wisely.

Karl said...

A friend of mine spoke to a waitress in one of the restaurants on Pensacola Beach. She said her husband was a deputy sheriff on the beach. The word was that a local judge said he would throw out the citations of anyone who challenged them. He did not believe the ordinance was constitutional and felt it was a ploy to raise money for beach projects. That is just what I heard.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope they do the same for Bushwaker weekend and Memorial Day weekend. It won't be long before all of the business owners are hurting.