Can You Get Arrested for Hosting a Pop-Up Event?
June 6, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
Now with the world opening up again after the two-year pause due to COVID-19, it’s clear that people are ready to get back out and celebrate. However, is there any case in which partying goes too far? If you plan to host a party or event that attracts a large crowd, can you get in trouble with the police?
With a recent bill being signed and passed by Florida’s governor, there is now a way for police to double down on crazy parties, potentially even before they are given the chance to get out of control. Now, if a sheriff wants to shut a party down, they can declare an area as a “special event zone” and issue double the costs of traffic fines and impounded vehicles.
If you want to have a great time this summer but stay out of trouble with the law, it is important to understand the extent of HB 1435 and the repercussions of partying a little “too hard.”
New Florida Law Cracks Down on “Pop-up” Parties
Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a new law into action as of May 26th, 2022. HB 1435 passed 35-3 in the Senate, and 83-32 in the House. The bill is intended to target so called “pop-up parties” which are defined as short notice gatherings that are typically organized through social media. In recent years, there have been issues with loud partying, huge traffic jams, and oftentimes leading to violence.
Under the new law, police will now have the ability to designate a “special event zone” within their jurisdiction, in reaction to a pop-up party in the area. Law enforcement officers will also be granted the ability to give out fines for noncriminal traffic infractions within the zone, and even impound a vehicle for up to 72 hours. In addition, police can recover the costs that were involved with enforcing the special event zone. The fine of the costs will fall onto the host of the pop-up party.
The special event is defined as an “unpermitted activity or event organized or promoted via a social media platform which is attended by 50 or more persons and substantially increases or disrupts the normal flow of traffic on a roadway, street, or highway.” The special event zone is an area along a roadway, street, or highway which is designated by warning signs. The term also includes parking structures, parking lots, and any other property (public or private) immediately adjacent to the designated area.
Daytona’s 2021 Truck Meet Mayhem
One of the main reasons for the push for HB 1435 is due to last year’s Daytona Truck Meet, which sparked outrage across the city, the event organizers did not pull a permit to host the event. The three-day event brought in almost 40,000 attendees, and about 5,000 oversized vehicles to the city of Daytona. Along with the event came traffic congestion, loud noise that went on until 4 or 5 am, and multiple arrests. The residents of Daytona are not new to hosting events. Daytona frequently hosts events at the Daytona International Speedway, such as the Daytona 500, bike week, and recently Rockville 2022. However, the residents of Daytona said that the Truck Meet was on a whole new level.
At the end of the weekend as the smoke quite literally settled from the streets, local residents were in an uproar in response to the event. “Really, my house vibrated the entire weekend…There’s something about that rumble that goes right through you,” said longtime resident Weegie Kuendig. “Everybody was so tired, people couldn’t sleep.”
In total, the event resulted in Daytona Beach Police (DBP) giving out 940 citations, 25 towed vehicles, and 52 arrests. Included in the arrests were 35 misdemeanor charges, 12 felony charges, and 5 DUI charges.
There was also a shooting on the Saturday of the three-day-long event. DBP spokesman Messod Bendayan said the shooting was the result of a road rage incident that was connected to the traffic caused by the Truck Meet.
The weekend event cause such a mess that the police had to create a special task force to figure out a way to handle it. In total, the weekend cost the DBP about $178,000 in overtime.
While there are a lot of positive responses to the bill’s passing, there is still some opposition. Some believe that it will grant the police too much power, and could potentially infringe on civil liberties. Senator Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach addressed his concern for police declaring a protest to be a “special event” and imposing penalties on peaceful protestors.
Supposedly the law could have gone even further with its strict rules. According to Tom Wright, the senator who sponsored HB 1435, he originally proposed making the alleged partiers pay for all of the fees of their vehicle getting impounded, even if the charges were dropped later on. However, the amendment was later withdrawn, as it received opposition from the rest of the panel.
Citizens in the Jacksonville area have also spoken up about the recent car meet-ups that have been taking over the city. “I don’t feel safe when this kind of stuff happens,” admitted one resident of Riverside.
Law and safety expert Dale Carson of Action News Jax claims that the line may be crossed with the new law when it pertains to the First Amendment right of assembly. The law does state, however, that law enforcement must provide notice of a special event zone, with posts specifically warning citizens in the area at least 24 hours prior to the meet-up.
“This is basically the trespass law,” Carson said. “It’s all this is; that aspect of notice which is required under Florida law to pursue a trespass.”
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
While the summer will bring people out to assemble and party, it is important to understand where the line is drawn. Clearly, Florida is starting to become stricter on large group gatherings, so it is imperative to remember your rights and how to remain safe during a large event. However, if you or a loved one are accused of a crime from a pop-up party this summer, make it your first priority to reach out to a Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across Florida and will work tirelessly to ensure your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation today.
Written by Karissa Key