MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Authorities in South Florida issued a stern warning Thursday that anyone can be arrested and their vehicle seized if they are caught taking part in an annual illegal rideout on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Florida Highway Patrol joined Miami-Dade police to send the message ahead of the annual “Wheels up, Guns down” rideout when hundreds of motorists take over the streets of South Florida.
“Law enforcement will have zero tolerance with any type of reckless or dangerous behavior with these vehicles,” Miami-Dade police Detective Angel Rodriguez said.
In years past, ATV riders, dirt bike riders and motorcyclists gathered in huge groups, some of them popping wheelies, speeding, running red lights and driving against traffic.
ATVs and dirt bikes are not street legal.
“They should be off-road, in areas where they can operate safely,” Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said. During last year’s rideout, one biker tried to go around traffic, but ended up smashing into the side of a car making a right turn.
In the entire year of 2019, 24 people died in ATV, moped, scooter and motorcycle crashes in Miami-Dade County.
“Our hardest part of our job is having to go to a family, notify their family that they were involved in a motor vehicle crash and that their loved one is seriously injured or potentially dead,” Miami-Dade police Detective Jonathan Mesa said.
Like last year, this year troopers will likely be parked at entrance ramps to stop riders before they get on the highway.
“Our aircraft will be up, monitoring the highways, I-95, all the roads, working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure that these individuals are apprehended,” Sanchez said.
Another vehicle that’s become common on public roads are golf carts, which can be street legal in some cases.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said his department will also be out in full force ahead of the ride.
“This is not a sanctioned event and, therefore, we will not provide any sanction,” he said. “We will enforce every single law when it comes to traffic enforcement.”