Food News

City of Fort Lauderdale's Zero-Tolerance Policy for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching. For most of us, that means heading to the beach, getting some sun, and maybe having a few beers or cocktails. But, if you don't want your outing to turn into a weekend in the drunk tank, you should heed the City of Fort Lauderdale's warnings.

The City is cracking down on Fort Lauderdale Beach all weekend in an effort to curtail drunk and disorderly behavior. To that end, they've issued a Zero Tolerance alert. 

According to the City of Fort Lauderdale's Police Department Public Information Officer Tracy Figone, police presence will be ramped up on the beach beginning Friday, May 22, with officers taking a zero tolerance approach regarding disturbances, physical altercations, and other violations of the law — specifically alcohol related. That means, before you crack open a Bud on the beach or get into your car after a few Mai Tais, you should know a few things:

Possession of an open alcoholic beverage on the beach, as well as leaving a bar or restaurant with your drink are strictly prohibited.

Additionally, any of the following violations could result in a physical arrest or the issuance of a notice to appear before a judge:

  • Possession of an alcoholic beverage by a person under 21. 
  • Serving or giving an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21.
  • Possession of an open container of alcohol in a public place that is not an enclosed structure.
  • Consuming alcohol in an establishment for off-premise consumption only (in other words, don't break out the six-pack in the 7-Eleven parking lot).

While these things are, of course, always illegal, if you thought the cops would be looking the other way for the sake of the holiday, think again.

The only exception to the above rules will be during the Great American Beach Party, held on Fort Lauderdale Beach between Southeast Fifth Street and Sebastian Street on Saturday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Event attendees of legal drinking age, are permitted to consume alcoholic beverages purchased on site from vendors within the designated event area.

Of course, even if your drinking is limited to designated areas, don't overdo it. If you cause a public disturbance while intoxicated or engage in physical fighting or violent, threatening behavior, you're subject to arrest or the issuance of a notice-to-appear before a judge. And, if the bartender asks you to leave, just go. Refusing to do so can also lead to your arrest.

Finally, don't drink and drive. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department have teamed up with the Broward Sherrif's Office DUI Task Force this weekend and they mean business. According to Officer Figone, they will be "saturating" the main corridors to and from the beach throughout the holiday weekend. 

So, enjoy the beach, have a few beers at a local bar, then take an Uber or taxi home. And remember to wear sunscreen. That last one's not the police talking, that's common sense.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss