Watch CBS News

Debate Over Drop In DUI Arrests In Miami Beach

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Arrests for Driving Under The Influence (DUI) in Miami Beach are down but there is debate as to why.

According to our news partners at the Miami Herald, Miami Beach Police, back in 2010, made 1,299 DUI arrests. In 2015, they made 138, Miami-Dade court records show.

In Miami-Dade County, police made 3,609 arrests - down nearly 20 percent from a year before. It's a stark difference from the 6,321 DUI arrests in 2010.

Whether there has been an actual drop or it's a result of lack of enforcement is still under debate.

"It's horrific. There is virtually no DUI enforcement anymore," said Janet Mondshein, the executive director of Miami-Dade's Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Some officers and police unions blame a lack of manpower, training and support as well as a program for first time DUI offenders.

Others say it's the ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that have taken some drunk drivers off the road.

Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates says they're dedicating more manpower to improving traffic in the city at the behest of city leaders not arresting drunk drivers.

Overall, DUI-related car crashes in the city have dropped with about 47 crashes last year. That's down from 100 DUI-related car crashes the year before.

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco says while law enforcement efforts and MADD have helped spread awareness of drunk driving, it doesn't correlate to "such a low number of arrests."

Grieco, a criminal defense lawyer, points to the "Back On Track" program as a major reason for the drop in DUI arrests. The program allows first time offenders to pay fines, complete community service and take classes to have the charges dropped to reckless driving.

Longtime officers argue the program is too lenient.

But the drop in DUI arrests isn't just in Miami Beach.

In the city of Miami, officers logged 466 arrests in 2015 - down from 1,013 in 2012.

"We are certainly happy with the numbers because it's proving. There are less people out there or at least we're catching less people and that is always a good thing," said Major Delrish Moss with City of Miami Police.

Florida Highway Patrol made less than 400 arrests - a 30 percent drop from the previous year.

In Miami-Dade, DUI arrests went up slightly in 2015 with 1,530 arrests but even that number was down from a few years ago.

Pinecrest Police, considered one of the most aggressive departments for DUI enforcement with 48 sworn cops, made 125 DUI arrests last year.

"We strive for more DUI enforcement," Pinecrest spokeswoman Michelle Hammontree told the paper.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.