Published: Jan 04, 2013 11:49 PM EST
Updated: Jan 04, 2013 11:53 PM EST

It's no secret that downtown Fort Myers is growing. Special events like New Years Eve, Music Walk and tonight's Artwalk flood streets and restaurants with people.

"People enjoy walking around and having wine and looking at art or whatever it is they are doing," said Red Rock's Ryan Walker.

But unless the event gets a permit so that people can walk around downtown with alcoholic drinks, police say they'll issue tickets, but not to the person drinking.

"If a patron goes in to an establishment and purchases alcohol and walks out and walks down the street and no one stops him, he assumes it's ok," Captain Jim Mulligan with the Fort Myers Police Department.

Florida drinking laws states that bars and restaurants with outdoor alcohol permits can only have people drinking 12-16 feet around the establishment. If a customer leaves that area and is caught with a drink in hand FMPD says it's the bartender or server who will be ticketed.

some downtown bars are upset because they feel this is a law police are just now starting to enforce. They also say it is preventing them from making money.

"What they are doing essentially is going to  deteriorate all these events we are having," Walker.

United Cafe stopped serving alcohol outside after a waitress was given a ticket when one of their customers walked off.

but police say the law is the law..


"We have warned you, that is what a warning means, you do it a second time, you will get cited," said Mulligan.