New spring break laws don't stop the party

ALABAMA -- Spring break brings big business to beach towns all across the South. But it also brings crime, so many communities are cracking down. New laws designed to stop the party are just forcing it to move elsewhere.

The sounds of young people partying and opening beers on the beach are now silenced in Gulf Shores, Alabama. This weekend the city enacted an emergency order banning alcohol on beaches through April 17 after more than 600 arrests since March 5.

"Most of the arrests come down to public intoxication, minor in possession of alcohol those are our two biggest categories of arrests," said police lieutenant Bill Cowan.

ap1603141947408002.jpg
Spring breakers gather in South Beach, Monday, March 14, 2016, at Miami Beach, Fla. Alan Diaz, AP

But college students like Hannah Hicks and Christian Gerring from Texas A&M think the police are being overly aggressive.

"If somebody was videotaping in a cops face and he said like you are interfering with an arrest so he like hooked her up. It's stupid reasons," Hicks said.

"I know we're being drunk and we are on spring break, but we're still adults. We're in college," said Gerring. "We know what we're doing and they act like we are children."

Gulf Shores officials believe they became the hot spot after word spread on social media that nearby Panama City, Florida, banned alcohol from its beaches last June.

The new ban in Gulf Shores is raising concerns that students could now move the party a few miles down to Orange Beach, Alabama -- which is dealing with an 800 percent increase of its own in arrests this spring break.

Dan Rowe oversees tourism and conventions for Panama City Beach, Florida.

"The city leaders were compelled to make some legislation changes because of incidences of some young people behaving badly," he said.

Last year, an unconscious woman was allegedly gang-raped while onlookers did nothing. A shooting wounded seven. And more than 1,000 were arrested. Rowe said there are less problems, but there is also less money.

ap117629014921.jpg
Spring breakers dance and sing to the music as they gather in South Beach, Monday, March 14, 2016, at Miami Beach, Fla. Alan Diaz, AP

"If the college kids aren't here, the businesses that have catered to that college spring break market are the ones really taking the brunt of it this year," he said.

Sparky Sparkman, who owns Spinnaker, said his beach-side bar has become a ghost town with business down 80 to 90 percent.

"It's gone. And you know what they say about something...once it's gone, yeah it really is tough to get back," he said.

In all, Panama City Beach enacted at least 20 new ordinances to crack down on bad behavior -- and like Gulf Shores -- will review the alcohol ban on their beaches before next March.