Drunk Driving? In Miami, You'll Probably Get Away With It

Miami-Dade has the lowest penalization rate in Florida for traffic crimes such as DUI.
Miami-Dade has the lowest penalization rate in Florida for traffic crimes such as DUI. Photo by Greg Matthews / Flickr
We all know Miami is a crazy place to drive. But new data proves that if you're looking to break traffic laws, Miami-Dade County is the best place to get away with it.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Miami-Dade in 2018 had the lowest rate of penalizations for criminal traffic violations of any county in the state.

Of 1,945 DUI cases that reached a conclusion in 2018, only 628 defendants were charged as guilty. The rest were either dismissed or had adjudication withheld, which allows defendants who successfully complete probation to avoid a conviction. That means only about 32 percent of DUI offenders taken to court were convicted of the crime.

Miami's numbers are a far cry from the Florida average of 70 percent guilty dispositions in DUI cases, meaning more people get away with drunk driving in this county than anywhere else in the state.
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Graphic by ValuePenguin
In a study released by the personal finance company ValuePenguin, researcher Mark Fitzpatrick crunched the state data and found Miami-Dade had the lowest rate of penalizations in Florida for a variety of traffic offenses, including DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

"Drivers in Miami-Dade are penalized at an especially low rate for some of the most common criminal traffic violations," Fitzpatrick's report says. "Conversely, drivers in Polk, Sarasota, and Marion counties have some of the highest penalization rates across these violations."

Miami-Dade's rate of guilty pleas for leaving the scene and driving with a suspended license are both around 5 percent, compared to a whopping 64 percent for leaving the scene in Polk County and 82 percent for faulty licenses in Manatee County.

Miami-Dade's leniency toward traffic offenses could be attributed to any number of things, from a large international population that might not be familiar with the laws to authorities' tired resignation that Miami drivers will always be crazy.

Fitzpatrick tells New Times even he's not sure why Miami-Dade has such a low rate of penalizations.

"We're very curious about this," he says.
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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos