Arrested at Gasparilla? Open Container Penalties / Tampa City Ordinances Section 3-40

If you were arrested at the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa, Florida, for being in possession an open container of alcohol read more about the possible penalties under the city ordinance.

At the Sammis Law Firm, we have represented individuals charged with this city ordinance who want to fight for the outright dismissal of the charges. Call 813-250-0500 to speak with an attorney today about defenses to this charge including a motion to dismiss if the Tampa Police Department did not properly preserve a sample of the alcoholic beverage.

Tampa Police Department's New "No Tolerance" Policy

Although for years the Tampa Police Department (TPD) absolutely tolerated open containers in and around the parade route, beginning in 2010, the TPD announced a new "no tolerance" policy. A "wet zone" was set up around the parade route from the Bay to the outside curb of Bayshore Boulevard. Any party-goers who walked across that imaginary line with an alcoholic beverage were subject to be arrested or released at the scene with a citation.

A city ordinance is comparable to a second degree under Florida's state law because both are punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Additional indirect consequences also apply, including a lifetime ban on the right to seal or expunge any criminal record if convicted of the City of Tampa ordinance for open container.

UPDATE: Avoiding an arrested at the 2011 Gasparilla Parade in which News 10 interviews criminal defense attorney Leslie Sammis about Tampa Police Department's "no tolerance" policy for open container and other alcohol related crimes:

Gasparilla Arrests by Tampa Police Department - Tampa criminal defense attorney, Leslie Sammis, discusses the new "no tolerance" policy against open containers that caused the number of arrests to triple in 2010 even through the crowds were down by half. Almost 400 citations were handed out for city ordinance violations for open containers, an offense punishable a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Tampa's City Ordinance for Open Container

City of Tampa Code of Ordinances, Chapter 3, Alcoholic Beverages, Article IV, Section 3-40, prohibits possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages outside of licensed premises.

Sec. 3-40. - Consumption and possession of open containers on streets, sidewalks, alleys and other public property.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to consume, assist or aid another to consume any alcoholic beverage upon any street, sidewalk, alley or other public property within the city.

(b) It is unlawful for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage upon any street, sidewalk, alley or other public property, including public or semi-public parking lots, within the city.

(1) As used in subsection (b), "open container" means any vessel or container containing an alcoholic beverage, including beer or wine, which is immediately capable of consumption or the seal of which has been broken.

(2) An open container shall be considered to be in the possession of the person if the container is in the physical control of such person.

(c) Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply when:

(1) The street, connecting sidewalk or alley has been officially temporarily closed upon application to the director of public works and the approval of the city council for the purpose of a block party as provided in this Code, or

(2) A portion of a sidewalk has been leased and permitted as a sidewalk cafe as provided for in Chapter 22 of this Code, or

(3) Public property has been zoned and permitted for the sale of alcoholic beverages pursuant to law, or

(4) A portion of the street, connecting sidewalk or alley has been marked and/or designated as a crossing for a public golf course.

(Ord. No. 99-229, § 1, 10-28-99; Ord. No. 2007-19, § 2, 2-1-07)

The Penalty Section 1-6(a) of the Code of Ordinances City of Tampa

Sec. 1-6. - General penalty.

(a) Code violations—Fine and/or imprisonment and/or probation. It is unlawful for any person to violate or fail to comply with any provision of this Code and, where no specific penalty is provided therefor, the violation of any provision of this Code shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding sixty (60) days and/or a term of probation not to exceed six (6) months, as set forth in section 1-6.1 or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each day any violation of any provision of this Code shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.

Tampa Dog Bite Attorney - Defenses to Strict Liability under Dog Bite Strict Liability Statute

Tampa Attorney on Defenses to Strict Liability under the FL Dog Bite Statute

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent dog owners who are given a citation for having a "dangerous" or "vicious" dog in the courts throughout the Tampa Bay area, including in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL. In certain cases, we also represent dog owners sued for damages in state court. After a dog bite occurs, it is important to retain counsel to avoid the drastic sanctions and liability that can otherwise occur. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case directly with an attorney if you wish to retain counsel to help you resolve these difficult cases.

Florida law generally imposes a strict liability standard on the owners of dogs that bite or injure a person or another animal. The Florida legislature recognized that this remedy was particularly harsh. Although not expressly stated in all of the strict liability dog bite statutes, numerous defenses exist to these claims which allow the owner of the dog to avoid or limit the liability.

Florida Statute Section 767.01 - Dog Bite or Dog Attack Statute

Florida Statute Section 767.01 does not include any reference to either the "comparative negligence" defense or the bad dog sign defense. Section 767.01 was enacted long before the Florida legislature enacted 767.04. Why would the newer statute list these important defenses, when the statute 767.01 does not?

The Courts have settled this issue by holding that the defenses contained in Florida Statute Section 767.04 also apply equally to dog bite claims under Florida Statute Section 767.01.4.

Only Two Defenses Apply to Florida's Strict Liability Dog Bite Statute

The only two defenses available are listed in Fla. Stat. § 767.04. No common law defenses are applicable.

Comparative Negligence - When the Person or Animal Bitten is at Fault

Under Florida law, once the dog owner makes an affirmative showing that the dog was provoked, then the dog owner can seek to avoid or limit liability for any dog bite, attack, or other injury under the comparative negligence standard. Asserting this affirmative defense requires a showing that the person or animal bitten or otherwise injured was at least partially at fault for the injury.

When the person or animal bitten is the proximate cause of the bite or attack, then that negligence can eliminate the dog owners liability, or at least limit the liability in certain cases.

Florida Statute 767.04 provides:
any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person's negligence contributed to the biting incident.
In fact, the former version of Florida Statute Section 767.04 included the following phrase:
no owner of any dog shall be liable for any damages to any person or his property when such person shall mischievously or carelessly provoke or aggravate the dog inflicting such damage.
If the person or dog bitten engaged in such behavior which caused the incident, then that behavior would constitute comparative negligence under the newer version of Florida's dog bite statute.

Under the more recently enacted version of the dog bite statute, the Florida legislature wanted to increase the available defenses which would allow the owner to reduce or eliminate the liability for a dog bite case in certain instances.

Under the older version of the dog bite statute (although still applicable now), the court in Donner v. Arkwright-Boston Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Company, 358 So. 2d 21, 24 (Fla. 1978) held as follows:
the legislature apparently felt that good morals dictated that if a person kicks, teases, or in some other way provokes the dog into injuring him, he should not be compensated.
Under the old statute the defense of provocation or aggravation of the dog acted as a complete defense, under the new statute those defenses trigger the "comparative negligence" standard to limit liability by the percentages of the injured person's own fault (or the fault of another dog the case of an injury to another dog that occurs during a dog fight).

Therefore, the general principles of negligence cases also apply to the dog bite statute, which otherwise provides for strict liability against the owner of the dog.

"Bad Dog" Sign

Under Florida law, the second defense is that a dog owner is not liable for certain damages related to a dog bite or other injury when the owner has prominently displayed a "Bad Dog" sign, although this defense does not necessarily apply when a child under the age of six years old is bitten, attacked or injured.


The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm understand that any time a dog is accused of vicious or dangerous behavior, the owners of the dog need to act quickly to protect their rights and limit there liability so that the case can be fairly resolved for everyone involves. If you need to retain an attorney in your case, contact us to discuss the particular facts that occurred.

Florida Deputy Extorts Money from Marijuana Grow House Operator

Florida Deputy Extorts Money from Marijuana Grow House Operator

A nine year veteran with the Broward County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Manuel Silva is accused of taking cash from an alleged marijuana grow house operator in exchange for not being arrested on cannabis charges.

During an undercover operation, Deputy Silva allegedly picked up an unspecified amount of cash that he thought was in exchange for not arresting the individual suspected of cultivation of cannabis in Florida.

The internal affairs investigation continues, however it is alleged that Deputy Silva arrived at the grow house in street clothes but while carrying his gun and badge. He threatened to arrest the resident of the grow house operation in Florida unless the cash was paid.

The Deputy even told the alleged marijuana grow house operator who had snitched on his cannabis grow house operation.

The alleged marijuana grow house operator in Florida contacted law enforcement officers through a friend who described the extortion scheme.

At the Sammis Law Firm we focus on marijuana crimes from simple possession of marijuana, possession of cannabis with intent to sell, possession of a marijuana grow house, cultivation of marijuana, manufacture of cannabis, to trafficking in cannabis throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa, Hillsborough County, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Bartow, Polk County, New Port Richey or Dade City, Pasco County, Brooksville, Hernando County, Bradenton, Manatee County. Our attorneys are members of the NORML Legal Committee dedicated to fighting for the reform of marijuana laws.

In many Florida cannabis grow house cases, the law enforcement officers conduct illegal searches or seizures under the Fourth Amendment. By aggressively fighting theses cases, our Tampa marijuana lawyers take a scholarly approach to filing and litigation motions to suppress and motions to dismiss.
Many law enforcement officers describe finding grow house operations as "fishing out of a barrel."

Because of the relative easy of investigating these cases, law enforcement officers often take shortcuts that violate our client's rights. Those violations, whether as criminal as extortion or as subtle as overreaching while obtaining "consent" to enter your home can result in the court throwing out all evidence in the case.

If you have been arrested for a marijuana offense in the Tampa Bay or surrounding areas of central Florida contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case today during a free and confidential consultation. Call 813-250-0500.

Read more about crimes of extortion in Florida under Florida Statute Section 836.05.