2-for-1 happy hour ban comes up empty

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Clearwater – The effort to get rid of late-night happy hours in Pinellas has run into a formidable obstacle: state law.

Prohibiting two-for-one drink specials – a goal of a group trying to cut down on drunken driving – amounts to regulating the price of drinks, Senior Assistant County Attorney Howard Bernstein says, Florida Law specifically bars local government from enacting price controls.

And that means the county’s consideration of a happy-hour ban is dead, Country Commissioner Stave Seiber said Tuesday. “We need to go back to the drawing board,” Seiber said. “This is apparently a bullet we can’t use.”

The idea of banning happy hours surfaced in November, buoyed by the efforts of Clearwater lawyer Thomas Carey, Commissioners said they weren’t’ interested in a countywide ban, then reconsidered after Carey refused to go away.

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