Alcohol Classes Not As Needed in Miami, Really?

by: Mike Miller

I know you may find this hard to believe, but driving under the influence (DUI) violations are down in Miami, Florida.

In Miami Beach, where revelers flock from around the globe to guzzle Grey Goose and sip cosmopolitans — often to excess — police officers nabbed 1,299 suspected intoxicated drivers in 2009. As reported in

By last year, that number had plunged to 492.

And if this year’s pace continues, Miami Beach cops will cuff still fewer: They made just 221 driving-under-the-influence arrests in the first half of this year, newly released Miami-Dade court statistics show.

It is a startling trend in a city fueled by booze and a thriving night-life industry, one that has supplied Web surfers with an endless parade of bleary-eyed entertainers and pro athletes nailed for driving through South Beach while drunk or high.

Has the message finally sunk in that drinking and driving is a deadly combination? Hardly. The number of traffic wrecks in Miami-Dade linked to drinking has remained level.

So why the big reduction in arrests?

The city’s police union blames a lack of officer training and resources, while the department acknowledges that under a reorganization of patrol zones started in late 2011, officers sometimes must forgo DUI stops to target other crime trends plaguing the city.

This is a disturbing trend, but to look at the statistics most clearly – the number alcohol-related fatalities has remained the same. I will address this again in our next installment.