The town compiled statistics about alcohol-related violations over the past two years in response to a request from Roy MacPhail, the brother of Donna Chen, the Siesta Key woman who died last month after being struck by an alleged drunk driver while she was jogging.
“Siesta Key is one of few beaches in Florida that allows drinking on (the) beach and I do understand all the mixed emotions both for and against these kinds of laws,” MacPhail wrote in a Feb. 1 email to commissioners.
MacPhail said Tuesday he has been contacting commissioners from beach communities throughout Florida and has found that Siesta Key is one of just a few public beaches in Florida that allows the sale and consumption of alcohol. He is trying to change the laws for Siesta Key.
“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to do something or else it’s going to be somebody else,” he said.
Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle said that he believes the town’s alcohol-related ordinances are effective. He said that the Key has a “no discretion” policy for DUIs, meaning that officers must make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe a driver is impaired. According to Hogle, the department has a close-discretion policy for public drunkenness. Hogle said that of the four public drunkenness cases during the reported period that did not result in an arrest, one suspect received medical treatment and one was at home when the incident occurred. In the other two cases, one suspect was taken home by family members, while officers transported another suspect home.
“One thing I’ve learned is that we don’t want to deal with a problem twice,” Hogle said.
The following alcohol violations were included in Longboat Key police reports in 2010 and 2011:
DUI 12 12
Public drunkenness 7 3
Beverage violations 6 3
Editor’s note: The following statistics do not include many incidents that occurred on Beer Can Island. Police will revise statistics later this week to include these incidents.