Holmes Beach city leaders pass alcohol ban

Holmes Beach, Florida -- Holmes Beach has voted unanimously to ban alcohol on the beach.

Manatee County and its city beaches all have the same rule: no alcohol on the beach. But Holmes Beach left out an important word that created a loophole that has tied officers hands for decades.

Previously, Holmes Beach's city ordinance only banned the consumption of alcohol. You could still put a 6-pack beer, or bottle of wine, in your cooler and head to the beach.

"You can have a container, but you can't consume it?! Sounds pretty dumb to me," said Gary Lewis, visiting Holmes Beach from Tampa.

"It's kind of stupid," added Dave Marble from Palmetto.

"If you have it, clearly the intent is somebody is going to consume it," said Lisa Hall who is visiting Holmes Beach with her family from Tennessee.

Despite Holmes Beach's no drinking policy, 10 News spotted a few beers on the beach, but no one wanted to go on camera.

Hall said she sees plenty of drinking, especially on Memorial Day weekend.

"There was a lot of language, a lot of ruckus behavior. I like it the way it is today: quiet and peaceful," said Hall.

Holmes Beach's Chief of Police William Tokager said, "We have to wait and see someone take a drink before we can approach them."

When Tokager joined the department a year ago, he said officers complained about the 36-year-old ordinance dating back to 1978.

"They've been enforcing it without the teeth," said Tokager.

Officers write about 20 tickets each month, half to underage drinkers, said Tokager.

"We'd do more enforcement if we can change the ordinance to possession not just consumption," he said.

Tokager rewrote the ordinance to also ban the possession of alcohol on beaches, but some still question if officers can enforce it.

"We can ask them to open their coolers. iI's not a violation of their privacy," Tokager said.

"If you want to drink, go to that beach that allows you to drink. This is a family beach. [It] should remain that way," said Lewis.

Fines for consuming and possessing alcohol on Holmes Beach is $75.


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