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.

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