Last year, Miami Beach police popped just 492 people for driving under the influence. This year, they're on track to arrest 442, with only 221 in the first six months.
In 2009, they arrested just fewer than 1,300 people for DUI. The plunge comes not because people in Miami Beach appear to be drinking and driving less, but because the Miami Beach Police Department decided it has better things to do.
According to the Miami Herald, MBPD reorganized patrol zones, and officers now forgo actively enforcing DUI laws in order to respond to other crimes.
"It's not that we're not focusing on DUIs, but this is a busy, happening community, and we have a lot of issues," Chief Ray Martinez told the paper. "DUI enforcement and traffic enforcement is one of many."
DUI arrests are also down in other parts of the county as well. City of Miami cops made 1,000 DUI arrests in 2012 but made only 327 the first half of 2013. County-wide DUI arrests are down 23 percent since 2009. However, the level of car crashes involving alcohol remains the same. (DUI arrest numbers for the Miami-Dade Police Department and Florida Highway Patrol are actually up.)
Aside from Miami Beach's patrol reorganizations, others blame the reassignment of certain officers who were quite prolific with DUI arrests, complicated court procedures that let some first-time offenders have the charges dropped if they do community service and pay fines (which leads to a lot of paperwork), or just successful public service campaigns reminding people not to drink and drive.
Don't be surprised if there's suddenly a spike in DUI arrests now that the statistics made their way to the Herald's Sunday edition. And, as always, drive safely or call a cab.
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