If you were trying to get to Miami Beach in a hurry Friday night on the MacArthur Causeway, you were definitely out of luck. The causeway was gridlocked on the busiest weekend of the year for Miami Beach thanks to a DUI checkpoint set up by Miami Beach Police.
“I’ve been here for two hours. My brother’s got to go to work. He’s late and it’s his first day here,” one driver told NBC 6.
The DUI checkpoint reduced the causeway from three lanes to one lane. Miami Beach Police were spot-checking vehicles and their drivers in an effort to filter the good and the bad before making it to Urban Beach Weekend.
“I think it’s a little excessive, but that’s me,” said Jenny Tighe. “I mean, It seems like it may be causing more problems than it’s actually solving.”
Jenny was upset because she was trying to save her car. She let a friend drive it Friday night and the friend was taken to jail after going through the checkpoint.
“I’m scared to death. I want my car,” Jenny said. “I don’t know. I ‘m here to find out what’s going on because no one’s been drinking, no one’s been partying. I cannot get my car towed. I can’t pay rent and that’s going to be really bad.”
Jenny’s friend was the first arrest of the night and it happened all of 36 seconds after the DUI checkpoint opened. Police said being intoxicated is just one of the reasons drivers will get in trouble Friday night trying to get to the beach.
“The subject of the vehicle was arrested for no valid driver’s license and because he had not been up to date with his child support payments,” said Miami Beach Police Detective Vivian Thayer.
Overall, Miami Beach Police are trying to send the message to everyone coming this weekend that they are in control of what’s going on. There are 600 officers working 12 hours shifts and the police set up a new mobile command center at Ocean Drive and 5th.
Even in the sky, the Coast Guard loaned Miami Beach its Blackhawk helicopter to help monitor events.
Nearly every hotel is booked on Miami Beach for the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer. Click here for more on Urban Beach Weekend and the preps Miami Beach Police put together ahead of the onslaught of tourists.