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Gainesville To Allow Alcohol In Vehicles for Hire

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Taking a “roadie” to the bar is legal again in Gainesville, in some circumstances, including Uber.

The city passed an ordinance allowing open alcoholic beverage containers in vehicles for hire Thursday.

The clause states that drivers cannot be in possession of open alcoholic beverage containers, but does allow passengers to have them in the vehicle, said Mike Barnes, vehicle for hire administrator for the Gainesville Police Department.

Vehicles for hire (VFH) include coaches, limousines, taxis and services like Uber, said Todd Chase, District II City Commissioner.

City commissioners unanimously voted in favor of this portion of the ordinance, which was originally there before. The vote was 5-0 with city commissioners Charles Goston of District I and Craig Carter of District III absent from the vote.

“My understanding is that it was to update some of our ordinance and keep with some state law,” Chase said, “but I think in general it is something we are not doing to promote alcohol.”

He said the new clause is meant to recognize that there are bus and limousine services that rely on alcohol as a part of their businesses.

During the meeting, Gainesville City Attorney Nicolle Shalley said the city rewrote the ordinance last year and removed the alcohol clause before it was brought up again. This portion of the ordinance was previously removed due to concerns about its originally meaning, including uncertainties regarding its inclusion of taxis and services like Uber.

“Last year when the city commission revised the vehicle for hire ordinance, they had to add a section prohibiting alcoholic beverages in all of the vehicles for hire,” Mike Barnes said.

Prior to the vote, the ordinance stated, “no person may possess an open alcohol beverage container while such person is operating or being transported by a VFH, nor may any person transport, carry, possess or have any alcoholic beverage while being transported by a VFH, except in the original package with the seal unbroken. A driver may not knowingly transport a passenger in possession of an open alcoholic beverage container.”

Barnes said the ordinance will now say, “no person may possess an open alcohol beverage container while such person is operating a VFH.”

Leandro Souas, a Gainesville Uber driver, said he did not think it was a good idea that passengers be allowed open alcoholic beverage containers in vehicles for hire because the people that get in his car are already drunk.

“People drink too much and it’s not healthy,” he said.

Souas, who has given over 600 rides with Uber, said he would decline to take someone if they wanted to bring an open alcohol container into to his car.

About Lauren Rowland

Lauren is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.

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