In Trouble After Gasparilla 2023?

The pirates are invading Tampa again this weekend. Here’s what you should know.  


Tampa, Florida, is home to the cherished Gasparilla celebration. Many locals and tourists swarm the city every year to partake in the festivities. Sadly, hundreds of people are detained for DUI every year in the Tampa Bay area after participating in Gasparilla and other associated festivities.


Partygoers need to be mindful of the implications of excessive alcohol consumption and unruly behavior as police presence grows and DUI regulations tighten. Our lawyers explain.  



What is Gasparilla?  


As most locals know, Tampa has hosted the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates for the last 100+ years in homage to the fictional but well-known pirate, Jose Gaspar. The first pirate “krewe” invaded Tampa in 1904 for the first time and there are now 50+ krewes that make up the Gasparilla Parade.  


Gasparilla has always drawn a crowd, but organizers say that this year will be especially crowded due to more people moving to the area, and recently lifted restrictions on previous years’ festivities due to the pandemic. 2022 was the first year back after a COVID-related cancellation.  


Around 300,000 spectators may flock to Bayshore Boulevard for the event this weekend in order to see the procession, floats, performers, and dance groups.


Gasparilla Festival Rules, Criminal Charges & Penalties  


While Gasparilla is an annual celebration known for fun, it is also known for an increase in arrests.  


Of course, with any pirate festivity comes rum, and the Tampa Police Department is ready to apprehend anyone for offenses ranging from underage DUIs to violations of open containers.


Even though the vast majority of the 300,000 guests keep out of trouble, some will be detained for making a mistake or overindulging in celebration. And remember, we aren’t just talking about arrests on the streets of Tampa, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is also ready to arrest people on the water for boating under the influence 


Crimes associated with Gasparilla include: 


  • DUI & BUI 
  • Underage DUI 
  • Possession of an open container 
  • Disorderly conduct 
  • Battery  


This weekend, there will be officers everywhere, and it is anticipated that there will be an equal number of arrests and charges as there are more people than usual. If you choose to partake in the festivities and consume alcohol, we implore you to use caution.


Gasparilla Festival Rules 


While there has been a decline in Gasparilla arrests over the last few years, it is still a serious issue that festival-goers need to be aware of. Most issues can be addressed by being knowledgeable about the event’s rules and regulations.  


The following actions and items are prohibited: 


  • Underage alcohol consumption 
  • Open alcohol containers 
  • Kegs or vessels that allow for mass alcohol distribution 
  • Styrofoam cups and containers 
  • Glass containers of any kind 
  • Coolers (except for those with medical needs) 


By following these regulations, you can ensure that you can enjoy yourself while still being safe and protecting your legal rights. But if you run into trouble, our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell are on your side.  


Zero Tolerance Policy  


At Gasparilla, you have every right to enjoy yourself, but police officers will strictly enforce any violations of their “Zero Tolerance” policy.


This means that police will enforce “wet” and “dry” zones, areas where you will and will not be able to carry open containers of alcohol.  


Note—the only areas where open containers are allowed are along the direct parade route and the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.  


Other Gasparilla regulations to be aware of: 


  • Flashing or displays of nudity are prohibited. 
  • No driving under the influence. 
  • No weapons, motorized vehicles, or bicycles are allowed.  
  • There will be no property damage or fighting allowed.  
  • Trespassing on private property is not tolerated.  


Open Container Violations 


Infractions involving open containers account for the majority of the arrests made at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. If alcohol is found on parade attendees outside of the “wet zone,” they will be detained and given tickets.


Be warned; an open container violation is treated  

as a second-degree misdemeanor.  


Underage Drinking 


There are NO EXCEPTIONS to Florida’s stringent alcohol use rules for minors. According to Florida Statute §562.111, a minor’s possession of alcohol is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of: 


  • 60 days in jail 
  • A monetary fine of $500 
  • Revocation or suspension of their driver’s license 


For repeat offenses, this charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor with license suspension or revocation.  




You must not drink while under the influence of drugs or alcohol if you intend to drive or take a boat to Gasparilla. If you do, you could be prosecuted with DUI or BUI, both of which have harsh punishments and long-term repercussions.


Learn More > What is the Difference Between a DUI & BUI? 


I Was Arrested at Gasparilla: What Should I Do?  


If you run into trouble at this year’s Gasparilla festival, call our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law immediately. We have represented people against criminal charges of all kinds, including DUI, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking at the famous pirate festival.  


If you are arrested this weekend, we will do everything in our power to fight your charges, whether you are a Tampa resident or are visiting from out of state.  


Don’t wait. Call Stechschulte Nell Law at 813-280-1244 for a Gasparilla case review today. 



Image credit: Visit Tampa Bay

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