JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — A cocktail of confusion surrounds alcohol sales in Jacksonville Beach.
On Monday, the city voted to make some legal changes for businesses selling liquor from midnight to 2 a.m.
A report by a local news station said that Jacksonville Beach was banning alcohol sales beyond midnight.
That is not the case.
Since the news came out Monday night, it initially led to some confusion.
But after clarifying the changes to city law, one First Coast News viewer asked, "Isn’t this the same ordinance that’s been in effect for several years?"
The answer is yes.
Some viewers were also concerned that this could impact new and existing businesses. Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Phil Vogelsang says that’s not the case.
"[Is this ordinance banning alcohol sales after midnight?] No, it’s not," he said. "The purpose of this ordinance, which has been in place, is a permit for restaurants to apply for to sell alcohol from midnight to 2 a.m."
“What we voted on last night was modifying a few of the rules and penalties for violating that ordinance code,” Vogelsang added. “Police do their best to enforce the codes, and there were no teeth for them to go after a particular violator."
Vogelsang says this new rule primarily will affect both restaurant owners and property owners.
This new enforcement could also impact restaurants in name only or RINOs.
City code requires bars and restaurants to make 51 percent of its sales from food.
If a RINO made 100 percent of its sales from alcohol, that would be a violation.
“It’s a rule violation that if you come in at 1 a.m. and ask, 'Can I get a taco?' and they say, 'No, I’m only selling alcohol," Vogelsang said. "We’ve had a few of those with the bad actors."
So what are other violations?
That includes illegal activity, such as underage drinking, selling alcohol after 2 a.m. or DUIs.
Jacksonville Beach City Manager Mike Staffopoulos says that businesses with an existing permit have six months to comply if they are not already following the regulations.
“They would have to comply with new portions of the ordinance, such as the existence of a security plan,” Staffopoulos said.
Can First Coast News verify that a restaurant may lose its license to sell alcohol after midnight if there’s a violation?
That violation would go before a magistrate who could issue one of the new punishments.
Suspension of alcohol sales past midnight could last up to 60 days on the first offense or last up to a year after a third offense.
These new rules are in place to also encourage businesses to get better security measures.
“Everyone will continue to play by the rules and we have good quality tenants down there,” Vogelsang said.
The Jacksonville Beach City Manager says that 39 businesses will be affected by the ordinance changes, 17 of which are in the city’s downtown area.