We’ve all seen the commercials on TV of a happy couple enjoying a few beers as they dig their toes in the sand along a tropical beach. But anyone hoping to recreate such a scene on any local beaches should be warned — your desire to kick back a few while enjoying the sunshine may end up costing you.
Possession of alcohol is strictly prohibited on the beaches along Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms, and each municipality has pretty hefty maximum fines for anyone caught drinking on the beach. Since 1990, Sullivan’s Island has outlawed possession of alcoholic beverages, opened or unopened, on its beach and beach paths. Fines on the island can be up to $1,040 per violation.
Just down the road on Isle of Palms, possession of alcohol on the beach carries a minimum fine of $133 and maximum fine of $1,092 — which just happens to be the highest possible fine among the three local beach destinations.
Over on Folly Beach, city ordinance sets the penalty for those caught drinking on the beach at a maximum of $1,087 and/or up to 30 days in jail. According to Folly Beach Director of Public Safety Andrew Gilreath, it is the officer’s discretion as to what fine is issued, so it depends on factors such as how cooperative someone is with authorities and if they have any previous violations. Gilreath says most of the time the fine is around $500 for those caught trying to catch a buzz on the beach, but officers can also decide whether to issue a fine and release the individual or place them in jail.
With that in mind, Gilreath offers up a bit of wisdom for anyone considering having a cold one as they watch the waves roll in.
“It’s not worth the risk,” he says. “If drinking on the beach is that important to them, it would behoove them to visit a beach that allows it.”