A number of "blue laws," which restrict the sale of alcohol on Sundays, are in effect in the Pensacola area.
County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 6, Article I, Section 6-1: Hours for sale or purchase.
The hours for the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages which are legal to be sold in Escambia County shall be 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., each day of the week. It shall be unlawful to sell or purchase or engage in the business of selling or purchasing alcoholic beverages within Escambia County between the hours of 2:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. each day of the week.
(Code 1985, § 1-2-2; Ord. No. 2021-9, § 2, 2-18-2021)
- State law references: Power of board of county commissioners to regulate hours of sale, F.S. § 562.14(1).
Santa Rosa County
County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 3, Article I, Section 3-1: Hours of sale.
- Except as otherwise provided in this section, no alcoholic beverages may be sold, consumed, served or permitted to be sold, served or consumed in any place holding an appropriate license under state law within the unincorporated areas of the county between the hours of 12:00 midnight on Saturday night of each week until 7:00 a.m. the following Monday morning. This subsection shall not apply to railroads selling only to passengers for consumption on railroad cars.
- It shall be unlawful to sell or purchase or engage in the business of selling or purchasing alcoholic beverages within that portion of Santa Rosa Island lying within the county known as Navarre Beach, between the hours of 2:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. of the following day, of each day of the week. Any person selling alcoholic beverages on Navarre Beach for off-premise consumption shall post a notice of the hours that sales and purchases are allowed pursuant to this subsection.
- The hours for the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages which are legal to be sold in the South Santa Rosa County Tourist Development District shall be as follows:
- South Santa Rosa Tourist Development District (Navarre Beach), 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., each day of the week.
- South Santa Rosa Tourist Development District (mainland), 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Monday through Saturday, 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight, Sunday.
(Ord. No. 77-1, § 3, 1-27-77; Ord. No. 91-17, §§ 2, 3, 5-15-91; Ord. No. 91-19, § 4, 7-26-91)
Several other laws restricting activity on Sunday that were instituted in the past have since been lifted. Sections 3565-67 of Florida statutes used to read:
- Section 3565. Following trade on Sunday. Whoever follows any pursuit, business or trade on Sunday, either by manual labor or with animal or mechanical power, except the same be work of necessity, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding fifty dollars; provided, however, that nothing contained in the laws of Florida shall be so construed as to prohibit the preparation or printing between the hours of midnight Saturday and six in the morning Sunday, of any newspaper intended to be circulated or sold on Sunday, or to prohibit the circulation and sale on Sunday of same, or to prohibit the circulation and sale on Sunday of any newspaper theretofore printed.
- Section 3566. Selling Goods on Sunday. Whoever keeps open store or disposes of any wares, merchandise, goods or chattels on Sunday, or sells or barters the same, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding fifty dollars. In case of emergency or necessity, however, merchants, shopkeepers and others may dispose of the comforts and necessities of life to customers without keeping open doors.
- Section 3567. Employing Servants. Whoever employs his apprentice or servants in labor or other business on Sunday, except it be in the ordinary household business of daily necessity, or other work of necessity or charity, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding ten dollars for every such offense.
Shortly after taking his second term in office, Escambia County Sheriff James C. Van Pelt announced his intention to institute a strict enforcement of these Sabbath laws. "I am required under my oath of office to arrest any person, firm or corporation violating these laws, as well as other laws on the statute book. And this I propose to do if the law is violated." He added that he could arrest the conductors and motormen of the streetcar system if they operated the cars on Sunday, and let the matter go into courts for settlement.
However, the Sunday after Sheriff Van Pelt's proclamation, most businesses remained open and the streetcars operated as normal, yet Justice of the Peace R. L. Nickelsen only granted three arrest warrants to deputies. All three men (John Nicholas, Chris Hootas and Victor Spassino) were Greek bootblacks. Others were found in their offices and ordered to appear before Justice Nickelsen. However, Escambia County Solicitor Scott M. Loftin said, "The evidence submitted to me was to the effect that certain business men were seen in their places of business on Sunday morning; one was reading a newspaper; another [Harry Kahn] was writing a letter, which he claimed was a private letter to a friend; another was looking over his mail, etc. I informed the justice of the peace that in my opinion the evidence was not sufficient to show that these parties were 'following a pursuit, business or trade,' or 'keeping open store,' within the meaning of those terms as used in our statutes."