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Pinellas may ban late-night towing from bars, restaurants to curb drunken driving

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas County Commission has agreed to to gather more information regarding the creation of a possible ordinance to ban late-night towing from bar and restaurant parking lots.

During the closing minutes of Commission’s Tuesday regular meeting, Chairman Charlie Justice presented the idea to the rest of the board.

“Hopefully it’ll encourage people to get a cab, get an Uber, get a friend to give them a ride home, as oppose to worrying about their car so much that they’re going to gamble and take the car home, potentially putting people at risk,” Justice said.

Hillsborough County already has a similar ordinance in place which bans the towing of a vehicle from an establishment that serves alcohol until noon the next day.

“I certainly want to look at it further,” said Commissioner Ken Welch. “I think it makes a lot of sense […] We’ve got an epidemic of folks drinking too much, driving the wrong way, and that’s taken lives recently. So I think anything we can do to get a better grip on that, is something I would certainly be in support of. “

Welch also asked if Pinellas’ version of the ordinance would give cities the chance to opt out, which it most likely will, should the county get that far.

For now though, that the next step will be to collect more information on the subject. Commissioners Janet Long, John Maronni, and Karen Seel all said they’d like to get input from some people who’ve been towed under such circumstances.

Commissioner Dave Eggers also considered the proprietors, saying, “I’m sure they would like to encourage people [who have had too much to drink] not to drive as well.”

Before the meeting adjourned, Justice made sure to point out that business owners would still have the option to have individual cars towed at their request.

Commission has yet to set a date to workshop the idea.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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