Success on Folly Beach, 2 years after booze ban's introduction

Success on Folly Beach, 2 years after booze ban's introduction

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - It's been nearly 2 years that a ban against alcohol was introduced on the Edge of America.

Now, Folly Beach City leaders say a sober summer on the sand translates to continued progress for the city.

"If you look at our tax base, our accommodation taxes are up 6% over last year which was up over the previous year," said Mayor Tim Goodwin. "Our hospitality taxes are up 9%."

Mayor Goodwin has been the Mayor of Folly Beach since 2010. He says the 'booze ban' is helping the city's revenue and it's cleaning things up, too.

"The crime rate's gone down," said Mayor Goodwin. "The crime rate in the drunk and disorderly and social behavior has really plummeted."

To many businesses in the area, this law is all about patience.

"I was really upset initially because I saw a big plunge in our business," said Palmetto Parking worker Roman Conte. "We have gotten the families back, as much as you can see. This is clean, I haven't picked up a thing. This is as is from this weekend. The people are very happy. The kids are here. It's a much better environment."

Still, the alcohol ban is taking a lot of vacationers off guard, like Kelly Richards who was visiting from Alabama.

"When I read it on the condo refrigerator, I thought it was a joke," said Richards. "I think it sucks."

Law enforcement officials say the penalty for breaking the law is steep and, in some cases, you can be fined up to $1,092.

"You can actually be arrested and taken to jail for it, depending if your beer is in the glass or not," said Folly Beach Interim Police Chief Andrew Gilreath.

Chief Gilreath says, still some people aren't listening.

"We don't catch everybody," said Chief Gilreath. "I say, 'when you go fishing, you never catch all of the fish, you catch some of the fish.'"

Gilreath says since the beginning of June, 2014, there have been 47 alcohol related arrests and nearly 60 written citations. He says while some people are still drinking on the beach, the police department has seen the numbers improve.

In 2012, before the ban, and during the same time frame, there were 101 alcohol related arrests and nearly 100 citations.

While it was a highly opposed decision initially, Mayor Goodwin says good things come to those who wait.

As for those who still don't like it?

"All I can tell you is, 'I'm sorry but that's the law of the land now.'"

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