Spring Break Court is now in session.
Vacationing college students nabbed for misdemeanors like underage drinking and disorderly conduct can expect some immediate justice at this popular spring break destination. And they can avoid a criminal record by giving up a day at the beach for a day cleaning up the beach.
Starting today, instead of processing offenders through normal criminal channels, Bay County judges will hold court at City Hall in this Florida Panhandle resort town. The plan mirrors a similar program used at Key West for several years.
First-time offenders can keep their records clean by doing up to eight hours of community service cleaning beaches, parks and roadways.
“They’re going to pick up trash on the side of the road they probably threw down there last night,” Police Chief J.B. Holloway said. “We hope their friends will see them and decide that they want to behave a little better.”
Other options are pleading guilty and paying a $175 fine or pleading innocent and having to return for trial. But the community service option carries a distinct advantage for youthful offenders.
“If they choose that then they don’t have a record” Holloway said. “Mom and Daddy don’t have to know about it.”