Manatee County banning bars from towing cars overnight in effort to reduce drinking & driving

County leaders aim to reduce drinking and driving
Posted at 10:44 AM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 19:14:33-04

Manatee County leaders are making it much harder for bars and restaurants that sell alcohol from towing cars of customers between 9 pm and noon the next day. 

County leaders say this will help reduce the number of people trying to get in their cars drinking and driving after feeling pressure to leave in their vehicle to avoid towing fees.

"People are leaving these bars and restaurants driving drunk," said Commissioner Charles B. Smith.

New rules say that between 9:00 pm and noon the next day, bars cannot tow cars parked in their lot without the owner's permission. 

If a car really does need to be towed, like in the event of blocking an emergency exit, owners need to fill out a county form under the new law. They need to fill out a form for each car they want to tow, making it easier for patrons to leave their cars parked in the lot overnight.

"If we save one life, it's worth this ordinance," Smith said.

The Banana Factory in Bradenton already makes it a point not to tow when a patron has had too much to drink.

"We'd feel horrible if somebody was to leave here after having that one too many drinks and hurt somebody or themselves," said Melony Bailey, Banana Factory manager.

But Bailey said she feels making this a countywide law is a good idea that reduces her liability as well as protects patrons and everyone out on the road.

Any business that does tow these cars without permission can get slapped with up to $500 in fines, according to the new ordinance.

These new rules follow a similar law in both Hillsborough County and The City of Tampa, according to the Manatee County Attorney's office.