Key West, Florida is a great place to spend the Holidays, culminating with a New Year’s Eve celebration in the island fashion that only Key West can provide.  In addition to the myriad of entertainment options that Key West offers year round, there are also some New Year’s Eve specific events worth checking out.

At Sloppy Joe’s bar, located at 201 Duval Street, every year as the countdown clock on New Years Eve approaches midnight, above the Sloppy Joe’s bar a gigantic conch shell is dropped coinciding with the strike of midnight.  There will be thousands gathered at the intersection of Greene Street and Duval Street taking in the spectacle and enjoying cocktails.

Another event takes us to the Bourbon Street pub, a New Orleans themed bar that is a staple of the Key West gay community.  At 724 Duval Street, above the Bourbon Street pub, a giant red high heel shoe is dropped during the countdown to the New Year.  While not as crowded as the dropping of the conch shell at Sloppy Joe’s, expect there to still be a significantly large crowd taking in the scene.

Finally, at Schooner Wharf bar, we have the dropping of the ‘pirate wench,’ in which our local pirate wench descends down the mast of the Western Union Schooner, which is docked right outside the Schooner Wharf bar located at 202 William Street on the Key West Harbor. People gather at the harbor side bars and restaurants and enjoy a great time watching this event.

Of course with this being Key West, one can expect that the alcohol will be flowing pretty freely at all of these events.  Every year we have clients who found themselves having a little bit too much fun in the revelry and end up getting arrested on vacation. If you do find yourself arrested on your trip down to Key West, the attorneys at Robertson & Hunter, LLP can help you avoid having to come back to Key West for your court dates.

Of course no one wants to get arrested, so here are some tips to help you try and avoid that fate.

-Avoid a DUI-

Law enforcement will be out in full force patrolling the roadways on New Year’s Eve and into the early hours of New Year’s Day.  Key West does not have Uber or Lyft.  The City Commission has not yet approved the operation of ride sharing service companies.  So plan on scheduling a taxi in advance or just plain walking.  The cabs will be in high demand, so there may be a wait involved if you do not schedule in advance. In addition to being trained to detect impairment by alcohol, the Key West Police Department employs two full time Drug Recognition Experts (known as DRE’s).  Be careful on the roadways and don’t get behind the wheel unless you are sober.

-Avoid a Drug Possession Arrest-

The Key West City Commission adopted an ordinance in September of 2015 that decriminalized the possession of marijuana less than twenty (20) grams.  However, this law gave law enforcement the authority to either 1) issue a fine or 2) arrest the person under the still valid Florida State Statute.  Please remember that while attitudes are easing with respect to personal marijuana use, you can still be arrested for it in Key West.  All other illegal drugs (cocaine, heroine, controlled substances without a prescription) remain illegal and carry with them serious consequences if you are arrested for them in the State of Florida.

-Avoid Alcohol Related Arrests-

It may be simple advice, but make sure you still have your wits about you and don’t over indulge to the point where you can’t make good decisions.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients get kicked out of a bar, and despite the fact that there are hundreds of bars in Key West, be bound and determined to re-enter that same bar.  They then get arrested for misdemeanor trespass.  Similarly, every year we represent clients who are arrested for alcohol related fights on Duval Street or even with their significant other.  Have a good time, but be smart and you will be fine.

If you find yourself reviewing this post after the fact, and need representation for an arrest in Key West, Florida we’re happy to help.  A huge portion of our practice is devoted to tourist defense and helping out folks who are from out of town and find themselves dealing with a court case in Key West.  The vast majority of our clients are good people who made a mistake and need some help.  Many of our clients have never had to deal with any accusation of a violation of the law and are understandably anxious about what will unfold.  In many instances, particularly in the case of a first offense, we can seal or expunge our client’s records after the case is over, such that it does not come up on a background check.

If you are in need of our services, please contact the Law Offices of Robertson & Hunter, LLP for a free consultation.