County declines to outlaw two-for-one happy hours

1995-11-23

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The lawyer who took the idea to commissioners says he’ll continue his local efforts. He says the issue is safety.

Big drinkers can raise a glass to the County Commission, which says it wants no part of killing happy hour.

A little weary after six hours in meetings Tuesday night, commissioners quickly dumped a request from Clearwater lawyer Thomas W. Carey, who wants to outlaw the two-for-one drink specials offered by many watering holes.

Chairman Steve Seibert said he thought the idea was worth sending to county lawyers for a closer look, but nobody backed him up. Commissioner Charles Rainey dismissed the proposal with a chuckle. “The two (drinks) are actually watered down anyway, aren’t they?” Rainey said.

Carey was not amused.

“Drunk driving is not funny,” said Carey, who was not at the meeting. “I lost my wife to a drunk driver.”

Carey, a past state chairman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says happy hours are geared to bombard people with booze right before they end. That sends drivers stumbling to their cars, where they can be deadly, he says.

Carey wrote letters to county and city officials around Pinellas, saying change has a better shot locally than it does in the Legislature, which he says is influenced by the alcohol lobby.

Like the county, Seminole recently decided to drop the matter. St. Petersburg sent the idea to its legal staff. Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey wrote a letter of support.

“We’re not going away, “Carey said. “I’m a trial lawyer. I intend to put drunk driving on trial.”

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