MLK Day is a day off for some, but there’s a particular group of rowdy Floridians that will be clocking in. Keep reading for more information.
Every MLK Day, a group gathers in South Florida at an informal event called “Wheels Up, Guns Down.” It’s not clear why the event takes place or how it started, but one thing is clear: Wheels Up means south Florida roads become a free-for-all.
Hundreds of people on dirt bikes, motorcycles, and ATVs take to the roads driving at insane speeds and doing wheelies and other tricks. They drive recklessly on public highways and interstates, and law enforcement is concerned about the safety risks.
In past years, the pack of wild drivers has driven onto sidewalks, gone the wrong way on narrow streets, and caused backups on the interstates and highways. Unlike Spring Break, Wheels Up, Guns Down is not sanctioned by the state, which worries officials and police alike.
While it’s unclear why or how the event started, one thing is for sure: the participants take it seriously. Since this event’s commencement, some bikers have taken the initiative to create a top performance for onlookers. One group, in particular, hires stagehands to collect footage and post it to social media.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony says, “[They] do so with total disregard for public safety, and that is where I draw a line in the sand. One of our core responsibilities is to protect the community, and we won’t stand idly by.”
Regardless of their dedication to a show, local law enforcement has had enough. Troopers from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach will be on shift on Martin Luther King Jr. day to deter potential participants. Police in the area are preparing for the event and plan to take action against those who act out.
Police are prepared to arrest people for reckless behavior and utilize resources to track down participants and punish them to the full extent of the law. In fact, undercover officers will be on duty to sniff out anyone who may be an event organizer or leader.
South Florida police will even use aircraft to track the area and catch these rowdy motorists before the event becomes deadly. With helicopters, undercover cops, and all hands on deck, it’s impossible to see how this event will get off the ground, but history shows that those who take part in this event do so whether the law allows it or not.
One of the main questions about the event is the legality – isn’t it illegal to do these things on the road? The answer: yes, yes, it is but not as unlawful as possible.
Law enforcement and legislators alike have filed requests and proposals that would change driving laws in Florida. One, in particular, would change the state’s road-racing statute to allow for harsher criminal penalties instead of traffic citations.
According to Statute 316.191, drivers may face penalties for:
- Driving vehicles in any race or speed competition/exhibition
- Participating in or leading a race or speed competition/exhibition
- Knowingly riding in the vehicle as a passenger during a race or speed competition/exhibition
- Interfering with traffic during a race or speed competition/exhibition
The statute covers almost all concerns surrounding speed racing. From drag racing to the type of vehicle on the road, FL Statute 316.191 covers nearly all the bases. However, Sheriff Tony and others in law enforcement are worried that it might not be enough.
Regardless of the thoroughness of this statute, the crimes listed in every section don’t have severe consequences. Traffic citations and fines are the only punishments for committing a crime like racing. Lawmakers are hoping to change that and make the penalties more impactful.
Protecting Your Freedom
While the Wheels Up, Guns Down event is not harshly prosecuted, some driving crimes are. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a felony if you are a repeat offender or if someone else was injured or killed.
A DUI can ruin opportunities and impact your freedom. These cases aren’t always what they seem and it takes an experienced professional to untangle things. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact The Law Office of David A. Webster, P.A. as soon as possible.
Don’t let a DUI destroy your life. Schedule an appointment with The Law Office of David A. Webster, P.A. today.