Bars and nightclubs in North Charleston should immediately adhere to the new law passed Thursday requiring them to close at 2 a.m., but they will not be fined until Jan. 2 if they are found open, Mayor Keith Summey said Friday.
North Charleston City Council voted 7-2 Thursday to force bars to close between 2 and 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday as a way to curb early-morning crime in a city one study recently dubbed seventh-most-dangerous in the nation. Sunday alcohol sales are regulated already by state law.
In recent interviews, the mayor said the ordinance would not take effect until Jan. 2. The ordinance says it takes effect immediately upon ratification by City Council.
Because of that language, the mayor said Friday he has instructed police and enforcement officials to issue warnings between now and Jan. 2.
"I want to give them time to get used to the new ordinance," Summey said. "A lot of them may not know that is has passed."
On Jan. 2, if bars are open after 2 a.m., they will be fined. If they continue to be found in violation of the law after Jan. 2, Summey said the city will revoke their business licenses.
Ieasha Blanton, a bartender at Sporty on Spruill Avenue said she just wanted to make sure she did the right thing when the clock strikes 2 a.m.
"I think it's a pretty good idea," she said. "We normally close by 2 o'clock anyway."