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Busted on South Beach for Diet Coke

Categories: News

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Sorry, Miamians. Your Fundays on SoBe are over. Unless you wanna pay a $50 (or more) fine, the city expects you to leave the booze, soda cans, and Styrofoam coolers at home.

According to code enforcement officers, all of the above are illegal on the sands of Miami Beach. Didn't know? Too bad, after all, "ignorantia juris non excusat" (i.e., ignorance of the law is no excuse for it). Talk about party poopers.

See also:
- Manuel Moraga, Miami Beach Police Officer Fired After ATV Crash, Wins Job Back
- Miami Beach Police Union Rep: "We Have Arrest Quotas Every Memorial Day Weekend"

Alcohol has long been illegal on beach under city code 70-86 -- a fact unbeknownst to many locals and most tourists. So carrying a cocktail from Ocean Drive onto the sands can technically result in a fine. Businesses are also prohibited from allowing patrons to leave with open containers, which pretty much puts every Miami Beach bar in violation.

Luckily (for businesses and beachgoers alike), the regulation isn't heavily enforced, as any walk along the shore will demonstrated. Cocktails, beer cans, and Wet Willie's cups are a way of life.

Most locals know to take common-sense precautions -- don't carry glass to the beach, don't be an obvious drunk a**hole, don't do beer bongs in broad daylight, etc. A friend received a citation several years ago, but it was because he was holding a big ol' bottle of vodka. Understandable.

This past Saturday, spring break and pre-St. Paddy's Day madness was in full force, and thousands of people -- drinks in hand -- were reveling on the sands of SoBe. My friends and I were drinking a few beers and talking on our towels.

Suddenly, a code enforcement officer approached and crouched down to speak with us. Her opening line: "Where are you from?" She told us she had to issue one of us a $50 citation due to the fact that we had metal containers (no mention of the alcohol).

Cans are illegal on the beach, period, the officer informed us -- as are Styrofoam coolers.

Say what?! We gave her the fifth degree. Of the six of us, most had lived in Miami for four-plus years, some for their entire lives. One in the group was a lawyer. Not one of us had ever heard of cans/coolers being prohibited. "So a can of Diet Coke is illegal?" we asked. "Yes," she replied.

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Both the issuing officer and her partner were unable to quote the specific statute. "Read the ticket," they parroted. We asked for their names, and the issuing officer's shirt tag didn't match what she told us -- questionable in itself.


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23 comments
TitoCaneca
TitoCaneca

Why would anyone, other than a tourist, willingly decide to go to the cesspool that is South Beach?

CollinsAve.
CollinsAve.

I live in a building that I just found out is totally illegal- on Miami Beach. I pulled the building card and it reads that its a 2 story building and I'm in a 15' by 35' addition on the roof, which was never given a CO or permit to build. And they're worried about a can?

shooz
shooz

The code only prohibits you from carrying it onto the beach.  You're not prohibited form holding it or drinking from it.  In order to prove a violation at a hearing someone would have to be able to testify they saw you carry it on to the beach.  Maybe it was a friend, the people sitting next to you, who knows? But unless they saw you carry it on, it should be dismissed.

alysbailbonds
alysbailbonds

Clearly they dont know the difference between aluminium and metal. Just saying!

Tommy
Tommy

It seems to me that life guards and EMT's have metal containers for their equipment everyday...a plain reading of the nonsense ordinance shows they are in violation everyday. Carrying a metal briefcase is also a violation as well as a metal purse, luggage, a tin of Altoids, etc. Cans no longer have pulltabs (like from the 1970's).

In my opinion, code enforcement should be about educating people about the code which should exist so that we all live in harmony and only fining those that flaunt such rules. However, that assumes the code makes sense in the first place...Welcome to Miami.

Tommy
Tommy

It seems to me that life guards and EMT's have metal containers for their equipment everyday...a plain reading of the nonsense ordinance shows they are in violation everyday. Carrying a metal briefcase is also a violation as well as a metal purse, luggage, a tin of Altoids, etc. Cans no longer have pulltabs (like from the 1970's).

In my opinion, code enforcement should be about educating people about the code which should exist so that we all live in harmony and only fining those that flaunt such rules. However, that assumes the code makes sense in the first place...Welcome to Miami.

truthseeker9176
truthseeker9176

Why would anyone pay this ticket? Here is my thinking, but correct me if I am wrong. This is US territory, therefore, when I am on the beach, I am not required to have any id on me or for that matter show it if I am not involved in a crime or detained. So, they can write me a ticket all day long, if I don't have the means to pay it right there, what happens?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

The sign clearly says no alcohol. You were drinking beer. You were in violation, even if the code enforcement officer has questionable grasp on the city's ordinances.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

miami beach  No smoking, no drinking, no drugs. No women - unless of course you're married. No guns, no foul language... no red meat.

Vito Delgado
Vito Delgado

I understand alcohol but if I bring my water and I get fined we have a problem occifer!!!!!

RD Swartz
RD Swartz

Dumbest stuff ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alexis D. Guillen
Alexis D. Guillen

It doesn't say it on the posted sign, so how are they enforcing it?

Angie Vdp
Angie Vdp

lol i'm glad someone realizes how dangerous aspartame really is! imagine the environmental contamination! lol

internetinternet
internetinternet

You should  receive a complaint number.  I supposed you didn't because they don't want the location and number of violations tracked.   Bad for audit purposes.  File an appeal.  Go before the Special Master.  Miami Beach throws out most of its cases once they get to Special Master.  This case will get thrown out for improper signage.  It appears Miami Beach still cannot get its act straight.  

If you want another story ask why code compliance doesn't carry their own decibel meters and video cameras.  

You can also go back after Spring Break and watch the amount of dogs on the beach. 

Metal
Metal

Aluminum IS a metal.

heidi1535
heidi1535

@Kylejack Great to know - you are useless as a citizen.  You're a pathetic joke of a "free" human being.  Can you wash the brown off your nose now...?

uncle.arty
uncle.arty

@Kylejack diet coke is alcohol? the article clearly states they were ticketed for a can of diet coke

Metal
Metal

No, CLEARLY in the article it says they were drinking. "My friends and I were drinking a few beers and talking on our towels."

He ASKED about diet coke, since it's also metal.  "So a can of Diet Coke is illegal?" we asked. He wasn't drinking coke, he was just wondering if he had been drinking it.

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