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A Primer on How Not To Get Arrested at Gasparilla

It’s that time of year again folks! Downtown Tampa and Bayshore Boulevard will be packed this weekend with pirates doing all sorts of piratey things. The rum will flow, the booty will be plundered, yards will be peed in and some of us might even get arrested! While part of this sounds like perfectly reasonable pirate behavior, the eight different law enforcement agencies working this weekend and many local homeowners might have a slightly different take on our beloved festival. While I can personally attest that our little celebration is a blast, there is no disputing that some take it a bit too far, only to find themselves sitting pretty in a drunk tank until they can be transported to the Hillsborough Hilton. No it’s not ok to pee on that road cone or invite yourself in to Derek Jeter’s fantastic new house. With each passing celebration local law enforcement has tightened the belt on the festival and worked to contain the alcohol to specified locations. Take your drink outside of those “wet zones” and you could find your wallet to be a bit lighter.

No, the police really aren’t looking to give you a hard time at Gasparilla, nor do they really want to mess with having to arrest your royal drunkenness. Having attended many a Gasparilla parade I’ve witnessed with my own eyes a fiasco or two where an otherwise fine lad was led away in silver bracelets. Generally the police made contact with him and asked him to go back to a wet zone or simply asked him to cool it on some other form of jackassery. I’ve also received a ton of phone calls from those who got a little loud and rowdy and ended up in the clink. Honestly, at this point it’s kind of difficult to get arrested at Gasparilla unless you’re just asking for it. If you drink outside of the wet zone you will likely be fined $75 for a first offense, $150 for a second, $300 for a third, and $450 if you are ridiculous enough to do it a fourth time. While no one wants to be fined during Gasparilla, be happy Tampa passed this ordinance as it may prevent you from going to jail. It’s the lesser of two evils people. If you’re so hammered that you can’t stand up or speak, you’re likely going to be arrested for public intoxication, miss out on the rest of the fun, and will enjoy the thrill of sitting in the office of a Tampa criminal attorney next week. What if you have to pee? While at times the bush in your immediate field of vision might offer a reasonable place to relieve yourself, you are not in the backwoods of Alaska, nor are you on an airboat in the Everglades miles from civilization. You’re in the fine city of Tampa, home to the worst football team in the NFL and the best chicken wings of all time. I’m looking at you Hattrick’s! Hose that bush down and you could find yourself charged with a violation of Tampa City Ordinance 14-52 for public urination, thereby subjecting yourself to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. You don’t have to pee that bad. What if that sweet babe with the sock on her head and 356 strands of beads around her neck (I wonder how she got those??) invites you to the aforementioned pee bush for a little romantic “live action?” Think twice hombre! If you make a baby in public you’re going to go to jail. Scientific fact. No, the wet zone won’t provide a loophole so don’t call me Monday and ask. No one, and I mean no one, wants to see what either of you are packing. If said package is out, soaking up the sun, you will be arrested for indecent exposure, charged with a first degree misdemeanor and come sliding into court just under the sex offender cut off.

So, how do you not get arrested during Gasparilla? Drink where they tell you, be nice to Officer Friendly, leave your pants on in public and all that is behind door number one remaining behind door number one. Don’t drink so much you turn into a ball of goo, and don’t get crazy. As much as I’d love to help you lighten your wallet to keep you out of the poke, it really is avoidable. Keep it to a dull roar while you’re outside and on public property. If you want to pee in a houseplant, make a baby in your house, or pass out on your staircase, have at it. At least you’ll be waking up in YOUR OWN sauce and not that of your fellow pirate.

Then again, if you want to go all in this weekend remember your favorite lawyer with the friendly name. Give me a call, I’ll be your Gasparilla criminal lawyer!

Jason Mayberry is a Tampa criminal attorney with offices in Tampa and Clearwater. Jason is available at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.