1. Opinion

Editorial: Out with outdated alcohol laws

Football tailgaters can start stocking up earlier on Sundays in Pinellas County following an ordinance change governing Sunday alcohol sales. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Football tailgaters can start stocking up earlier on Sundays in Pinellas County following an ordinance change governing Sunday alcohol sales. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Mar. 17, 2017

Pinellas County took a big step out of the past when commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance updating the county's rules on Sunday alcohol sales. No longer will stores and restaurants have to wait until 11 a.m. on Sunday to sell alcoholic beverages. Originally passed to ban certain activities for religious reasons, such "blue laws" are unneeded, outdated relics.

Retail outlets can now sell alcohol every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Will this lead to a never-ending Mardi Gras atmosphere on the streets of Largo? Drunk and disorderly conduct unchecked in Gulfport? Hardly. There's a valid public safety argument for ending alcohol sales at 3 a.m., but none for making football fans, boaters or the brunch crowd hold off until 11 on Sundays. "It is important to note," Belleair Mayor Gary Katica wrote to commissioners, "that there were no objections … by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office regarding this issue."

Cities in Pinellas can still pass their own ordinances further restricting the hours of alcohol sales. That's not likely in St. Petersburg, where Mayor Rick Kriseman had been lobbying for the change for more than a year, with an eye toward giving local businesses and tourism a boost. The idea was popular on the beaches too, where elected leaders know that many vacationers want to relax with a cocktail or a beer at all times of the day.

Pinellas County's new alcohol ordinance is a commonsense change for a place so reliant on tourism. Allowing earlier Sunday alcohol sales won't lead down the road to ruin. It's simply convenient and consumer-friendly.


  1. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, right, addresses a joint session of the Florida Legislature during his State of the State address in Tallahassee.
  2. No issue is too small for Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee to attack citizen initiatives and local control.
  3. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  4. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  5. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  6. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  7. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.
  8. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is advocating for a statewide policy of paid family leave for all Floridians.
  9. Pasco County community news
  10. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]