People who swim at the beach when the red warning flags are out risk their lives. At Gulf Shores, taking a dip when flags are posted could mean a trip to jail.
The Gulf Shores City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday that makes it a misdemeanor to swim at city beaches when conditions are considered dangerous.
The ordinance says any Gulf Shores employee -- including police officers and lifeguards -- may order swimmers to get on the beach.
Police Chief Arthur Bourne said if swimmers refuse, they can be cited or arrested. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is a $500 fine, six months in municipal jail or both.
No one has drowned this summer off Baldwin County beaches. City
officials said the change in the law was prompted by a rash of drownings at nearby Florida Panhandle beaches and several close
calls at Gulf Shores beaches.
City administrator Tony Rivera said the law also applies to surfers.
Private beaches, such as those behind condos and hotels, are exempt from the new law.