MIAMI (CBSMiami) - South Florida law enforcement will be doing something unprecedented on the water this weekend; a boating under the influence checkpoint involving 10 agencies.
In front of photo-op backdrop of marine patrol boats at PortMiami, Miami-Dade's Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday they would attempt to cut down the number of boating accidents by going after drunk boaters. So far seven people have died on the water this year in Miami-Dade, including four killed in a horrific accident that occurred the night of July 4th.
"It is rare that carelessness alone is the cause," Gimenez said.
The plan calls for marine units from every Miami-Dade coastal city along with the Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They will saturate areas over Labor Day weekend in an operation that can best be described as a DUI checkpoint on the water. The operation is personal to Key Biscayne's Police Chief Charles Press.
"Just under a year ago my life hit ground zero, when my daughter was hurt out there on those waters, in that party atmosphere, that we are talking about," Press said.
The parties lately appear to be centered on an area called Nixon Beach. The sandbar off Key Biscayne is popular for booze, bikinis, and disaster. It's where DJ Laz infamously started up his souped up speedboat, shredding a partygoer.
"We were always responsive to the Columbus Day Regatta, or the Key Biscayne Regatta. But this has become an every weekend thing. That phenomenon happened in the last year, year and half. It's become the way people like to boat in South Florida," said Press.
Despite beefed up patrols by Key Biscayne and FWC in the area, police call it a joke.
"If you have a boat on the water and you have one cop or two cops on that boat and you are at a party of 500, a thousand people drinking, narcotics involved and they have to engage that personal, it's extremely dangerous. And the cavalry doesn't always come," Press said.
Typically if police are successful finding a drunk boater, they must have the boat towed, arrest the boater and process them.
"All that can take in excess of three to five hours," Press explained. "You just lost one of your assets for at least half of his shift if not more."
Meanwhile the party goes on.
Gimenez hopes this concentrated effort, that will happen once a month in targeted problem spots, will be the answer.
"It's much better to prevent an accident than to respond to one. Once your responding, the damage is already done," Gimenez said.
It remains to be seen if this will change anything. They plan to hit new areas once a month going forward.
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