MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend right around the corner, South Florida law enforcement has a message for those planning to take part in a “Wheels Up, Guns Down” ride.
Just don’t do it.READ MORE: SEE IT: SUV Drives Through Traffic Arms, Jumps Rising Florida Drawbridge
The annual event started as a way to honor Dr. King. However, in recent years, it’s become a dangerous display of stunts and racing on South Florida streets.
The Miami-Dade Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol have teamed up to raise awareness about road safety. They say it endangers drivers and law enforcement officers alike.
Last year, two officers were hurt in southwest Miami-Dade when they went to check out reports about reckless riders.
The police and FHP remind everyone that off-road vehicles are banned from public roadways.
“The illegal operation of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on highways and roadways is extremely hazardous and dangerous to the public. The goal is to prevent hazards and deaths and injuries with reckless driving and behavior,” said FHP Lt. Alex Camacho.
The FHP said they will be out in force in an effort to save lives.
“FHP encourages everyone to enjoy the holiday. We do have a zero-tolerance for reckless driving on our interstate expressways and highways, those are the types of violations that create hazards in the end and we ask that people refrain from doing so. Getting your vehicle impounded and arrest is no way to enjoy the holiday weekend. The dangers are real and avoidable,” said FHP Commander Christopher Dellapietra (4050)READ MORE: Miami Man Wins $5 Million In Florida Lottery Scratch-Off Game
Activists like Maurice Hanks say Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be about unity not division.
“The fight for civil rights taught me some things and that is the power of unity,” he said.
“The most important thing we can do is to teach our children to be civil and work on our differences and to solve problems and be adults and be more responsible. It takes all us to keep the community safe and I can’t think of a better day than Martin Luther King day to show that,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez.
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On Thursday, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony announced that his department was teaming up with the FHP and several police agencies in the county to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for reckless and dangerous riding.
They plan to use helicopters for air surveillance and have deputies and officers positioned around the county ready to take action when needed.
Last year in Broward, 18 criminal citations were issued, 14 arrests were made, and 16 bikes were towed.
In Miami-Dade, 41 ATVs and dirt bikes were impounded, two firearms seized, and 28 arrests were madeMORE NEWS: Miami Weather: South Florida Set To Sizzle This Weekend
The sheriff’s office and the police are urging the public to say something if they see something suspicious.