San Diego

Fourth of July Rule Breakers May Be Given ‘Instant Justice'

Those who break the rules on the Fourth of July in San Diego may be eligible for “Instant Justice” under a program run by the City Attorney’s Office.

With great weather conditions and warm water in the forecast, large crowds are expected to converge on the sand along San Diego’s beaches and bays.

“With nearly 1 million people visiting the beach, if everybody left behind some trash, it would just be overwhelming,” said Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum.

The organization “I Love a Clean San Diego” has supplied large bins on the beaches to help with the cleanup process and they are organizing a “Morning After Mess Cleanup” on July 5 at 9 a.m.

The cleanup event, and other volunteer clean-ups across the county, is also an opportunity for people who get alcohol-related citations to get the charges dismissed.

Through the “Instant Justice” program, offenders can pay a $40 fine and complete six hours of community service.

“I hope you all have a safe and crime-free Fourth of July and for those who don’t, we’ll see some of you Thursday at 9 a.m.,” said City Attorney Mara Elliott.

Open alcohol containers, glass container violations and drinking alcohol in prohibited areas are eligible offenses, Elliott said. Other citations that may qualify for the program are littering, smoking in the park and dogs off leash. 

Fines for those offenses are typically a minimum of $200, according to the City Attorney's Office.

One of the biggest sources of trash is alcohol containers. Drinking alcohol on public beaches has been outlawed since 2009.

Drunk driving, public intoxication, and violent behaviors are not offenses covered by the program, Elliott said.

Fifty people completed 250 hours of community service last year, she added.

The program applies to citations issued on city beaches and parks in Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla and Clairemont, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Lerum said the weather reports suggest a spectacular beach day Wednesday. However, a south swell from a nearby hurricane may increase the occurrence and strength of rip currents. It’s best to check in with a lifeguard when you arrive at the beach and ask for the best section of the coast for swimming.

Lifeguards also advise swimmers to shuffle their feet to avoid stingrays and to check the number of the nearest lifeguard tower to avoid getting lost in the crowds.

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