FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Law enforcement across South Florida is preparing for the annual “Wheels Up, Guns Down” ride that wreaks havoc on our streets.
It began a few years ago as a way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and promote non-violence.
Many say that message gets lost when the motorcycle, dirt bike, and ATV riders take to the roads, speeding while weaving in and out of traffic and performing dangerous stunts.
Their antics have caused stalled traffic, police chases, and serious crashes.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the Florida Highway Patrol have partnered with various city police departments in Miami-Dade and Broward to try and keep the mayhem to a minimum on Monday.
“This is not a sanctioned event. ATVs and off-road vehicles should not be driven on roadways of the public. What the riders anticipate to do will create hazards on the roadways and ultimately result in creating car accidents and potential fatalities,” said Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony.
Law enforcement plans to be out in force on the roads and will have zero tolerance for riders caught breaking the law. They will be cited, arrested and their vehicle will be seized.
“If you operate in willful, wanton disregard for the motoring public, for our visitors, for our residents, we are here to take enforcement action. You will be subject to fines anywhere from $100 up to $1,100 depending on the violation. Your bikes, ATVs, and mini-bikes that are illegal to operate on the road will be taken,” Florida Highway Patrol Major Robert Chandler.
Highway signs will display a message that off-road vehicles are prohibited on public roadways.
“We stress the importance of maintaining safety, so we’re asking the community to assist us in spreading the message that we want everyone to be safe and we want everyone to conduct these vehicles in a legal manner,” said Miami-Dade Detective Angel Rodriguez.
In years past, the rides have started on the weekend before the holiday and so that’s when the stepped-up enforcement will begin.
Most of those who’ve taken part in “Wheels Up, Guns Down” in years past were not wearing a helmet.
Police have cautioned that you are 27 times more likely to die in a bike crash than in a car crash and your odds of dying are dramatically increased if you are not wearing a helmet.