Wednesday March 19, 2008

So, you want to know why South Florida has crappy drivers? Well, I managed to pull the answer out of this seemingly innocuous article about DUI checkpoints. Peep: “One out of every four people stopped by a [Florida Highway Patrol] trooper has a suspended license,” BUT “when you make an arrest, you’re taking a police officer off the road for a couple of hours.” Those are quotes from FHP spokescop Lt. Pat Santangelo, and what he’s telling you, folks, is that when they pull over someone with a suspended license, they let them get right back on the road.

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  1. Rick    Wed Mar 19, 11:12 AM #  

    I doubt very seriously, Alesh, that any police officer is going to sit there and let a DWLS drive off into the sunset. If the guy doesn’t have a license, he’s going to get a ticket and then he’s going to need to call someone or start walking.

    It’s not like they’re just waving them down the road like you make it out to be.

    And if they did arrest every one, I’m sure you and a bunch of other people would be bitchin’ about your taxes going up to afford the extra jails and employees to support them.


  2. alesh    Wed Mar 19, 11:18 AM #  

    Hmm…. so, they’re not arresting them. So what other alternative is there? They write a ticket, and then what? If the person isn’t back on the road right away, they are the next day, aren’t they?

  3. squathole    Wed Mar 19, 12:34 PM #  

    You’re arriving late in the game, Alesh. The question is, Why do 1 in 4 drivers pulled over have suspended licenses? Seems like whatever they did to earn the suspension is the reason there’s so many bad drivers, not v-v. So the issue is, Why are there so many drivers around so bad they get their licenses pulled?

  4. dreaming    Wed Mar 19, 01:07 PM #  

    maybe they arent required by the license issuing authority to demonstrate sufficient driving competency when they are issued licenses in the first place?

    is the dmv doing its job in license testing?

    the other issue that concerns me is the cops just randoming pulling people over during these so-called ‘dui checkpoints.’

    hello, isnt that somewhat big-brotherish? isnt there something called probable cause for detaining someone?

    i dont doubt the roads are filled with idiots, but freedoms are already under enough pressure in this country without these random cop dragnets….

  5. Rick    Wed Mar 19, 01:11 PM #  

    So if the person gets arrested, Alesh, makes bond and walks out, he’s back on the street then, right? I’m not sure what you’re advocating or what you expect given the system we have to work with.

    I won’t disagree with you that the system is effed and it’s crazy that we have so many suspended drivers out there, but instead of just bitching about it, tell us what you would do.


  6. alesh    Wed Mar 19, 02:30 PM #  


    Your powers of logic fail you again! Of course the idiots who have their licenses suspended are lame drivers, and when they continue to drive they CONTINUE to be lame drivers, meaning they get pulled over much more frequently then the general population. The problem is that we’re not properly enforcing the suspensions.


    is the dmv testing properly? Well, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had a driving test since I first got my license, which is going on 20 years ago. The DUI checkpoints are pretty messed up — there was on the MacArthur a few months ago — LEAVING south Beach on a saturday. they pull everyone over for awhile, process them, then pull another batch. Good thing they missed me — i was pretty blotto!


    Hey, I’m not the one in law enforcement — let THEM figure it out!! I agree that it’s not easy. However, imho traffic cops have their priorities completely fucked up. They enforce 0% tollerance of not coming to a full 100% dead stop at a stop sign, while allowing 100% violation of turn-signal laws.

    On I-95 I’m pretty sure the only thing anyone EVER gets pulled over for is violating the HOV lane.

  7. anon    Wed Mar 19, 02:58 PM #  

    Reasons for having a license suspended:
    Child Support
    Civil Judgment unpaid
    Unpaid Tickets
    Prior DUI or Failure to submit to a Breath Test
    No Proof of Insurance
    Immigration Status (temporary visa expired)

    Take your pick over which you think is more egregious.

  8. Stefan    Wed Mar 19, 03:44 PM #  

    i wish they would require a better driving education in order to obtain a license.

    i can only speak for myself (i got my first license in germany), but i was like “wtf?” when i went to the DMV over here to get a license.

    in case you don’t know how it works in germany:
    you go to driving school a couple times a week and sit in class for an hour or two just like in a regular school. you study everything from traffic signs, how and when to use your blinker, to how to find out how much pressure a tire needs. after you pass a test with a bunch of questions reviewing what you learned, you get to the actual driving lessons. you have to complete a certain amount of hours driving inner-city, on the highway and at nighttime. once you and your teacher agree you are ready and good enough you have to take another test in which you drive around with an independent instructor. you have to show how to park sideways, backwards, start the engine without killing it going up a hill (remember most cars in germany are manual trans) etc. only after you pass that test you get your license.
    oh and by the way, overall it’s about $2000 to obtain a license (depending on how many classes/hours you need).

    i guess there’s a reason that eventhough there’s no speedlimit on the autobahn, there’s less serious accidents in germany than over here.

    cheers :)

  9. Jorge    Wed Mar 19, 09:13 PM #  


    Why are you so anti-police? This is getting old, it seems that every post you seem to bash cops. Have you ever been arrested? Is there some sort of agenda here? Please advise

  10. Robert    Wed Mar 19, 09:25 PM #  

    I think everyone commenting has their fingers on the problem.

    It’s way too easy to get a license here, and once you get it, you never ever get retested. If I were king for a day or two (wouldn’t that be a lucky day for all of you!), I would make everyone have to physically go to the DMV to retake a driving test every 4-6 years. No test, no driver’s license renewal. Sure, we would need more people working at the DMV, but you can always contact/privatize part of it. You would also need more police to stop those who will surely find a way to drive without a valid license. Perhaps we could increase license renewal fees slightly to fund more traffic cops.

    I know it sounds crazy, and it will never happen. But one can dream, right?

  11. mad hatter    Wed Mar 19, 10:50 PM #  

    Stefan, its admirable that Germans so value the responsibility of driving that they make it harder to get a license than it is to get a GED in the U.S. That being said, it’s also true that Europeans rely less on cars than their American counterparts. In Europe there are efficient mass transit systems (for the most part) that allow most folks to go without a car and still be able to function effectively in society. Try functioning on MDTA over here. If you made it as hard, and expensive, to get a license here as it is in Germany, there’d be a riot.

    As far as cops letting DWLS offenders go, Rick’s got the concept. There are many reasons for which people end up with a suspended license that have nothing to do with driving, and some of those were articulated by anon. An officer is able to exercise discretion when dealing with the offender. If the driver is a jerk, he or she will take a trip downtown. If the person has a good attitude and complies with the officer’s requests, they’ll be issued a Promise To Appear (an arrest without actually being taken to jail) and the offender will be released and the car impounded. Technically the driver is arrested, but they just skip over the hassle of transporting the driver to the jail, filling out more paperwork, etc. only to have the driver bond out before the officer leaves the jail.

  12. alesh    Thu Mar 20, 01:03 AM #  

    hatter~ That sounds great — kiss the popo’s ass, get preferential treatment. Nice country you got here.

    Robert~ I sort of agree. On the other hand, as I age I’ve come to realize that most automobile accidents are actually the fault of both the drivers involved. Our system demands that one driver be designated the infringer, and bear the full legal/financial ramification of the incident, but the difference between an accident and a close call is (imo) the OTHER driver — if [s]he is paying attention and reacts, the accident is prevented, and this happens thousands of times for every actual vehicular collision.

    If this is relevant to your comment, it’s to say this: the real solution is not OTHER drivers. Yes, some of them are pretty bad, and they make our lives more dangerous, but they may not be bad people, and they deserve to earn a living (= get to work), and if only each one of us would make the effort to pay ATTENTION to what’s going on around us when we drive, rather then just strictly “adhering to the law,” we’d all be safer? Is there ANYONE to whom this makes sense?

  13. alesh    Thu Mar 20, 01:10 AM #  

    orge~ How is this post bashing cops? I’m drawing an inference from what the FHP’s own spokesperson said. Do you find my inference to be incorrect or irrelevant? If not, in what other sense am I being “anti-police” in this instance?

  14. Jorge    Thu Mar 20, 07:26 AM #  

    Alesh, I know you liberals need to SEE the evidence before hand, but do you think I have time to cut and paste all your articles and place them here?
    Come on, why don’t you write one thing positive about our law enforcement officers in the greater Miami? Like for example,two officers jump into a canal and save a mother of two from drowning after her car drives off the road. Sure that’s not that interesting but maybe we could write about automobile safety and all the dangerous canals in South Florida.
    Remember that these are the guys ang gals that make your community safer.
    You never answered the question, have you been arrested before?
    Also point to posters (Mad Hatter)
    The only time that a DWLS is arrestable us when the person knows, or should have known, that his/her license was suspended. Also, yes, the officer does have discretion for any misdemeanors, however, they can’t let the person drive off with a suspended license.

  15. Dave    Thu Mar 20, 11:18 AM #  

    Making it harder to get liscences or requiring retesting isn’t going to stop the problem. The problem with S Fla drivers isn’t that they don’t know how to drive or don’t know the rules its that they choose not to follow the laws (knowing there is 0 traffic enforcement outside of speed traps makes it easier). Do you think people weaving in and out of traffic or driving on the shoulder to pass another driver don’t know that they are not supposed to be doing it?

  16. dreaming    Thu Mar 20, 11:55 AM #  

    license re-testing is a very sensitive issue in fla because of all the old people who drive. there are sometimes calls for re-testing but the aarp lobby resists. the old folks dont want to be relieved of their licenses after a certain age makes them a road hazard.

    that said, im sure not too many oldsters are getting caught in the dui sweeps that net unlicensed drivers due to unpaid tickets etc.

    could the bad driving here be related to cultural differences among the now-majority hispanics who populate the roads? maybe.

    i know one thing. only in s fla – miami-dade, really – do i encounter so many idiots blowing their horns at every intersection. the horn blowers are invariably hispanics. i guess where they came from, it ok to blow your horn at other drivers every 5 mins.

    it makes me homicidal whenever they do it to me.

  17. Jorge    Thu Mar 20, 04:00 PM #  

    I think Dave’s post is the most down to earth, logical post on this whole page.

  18. John    Fri Mar 21, 10:05 AM #  

    Alesh- Yes, it makes sense to me. But then, I took driver’s education classes back when high schools still offered them. One of the most important things I learned was the art of defensive driving. One of the things our instructor taught us is to think of the stupidest thing the other drivers could do, so when they do it, you’re prepared to react. I have put that to good use here. Every day, I’m watching for crazies and that is the only reason I haven’t been in an accident yet. I’ve almost been hit at least 15 to 20 times in the last year. It’s also important to not be in a hurry. You’re not racing the other drivers. It’s better to make it to your destination alive rather than first.

    Dave- You’re absolutely right. I was in Los Angeles last fall, where is the traffic is even worse than here. But, on the whole, people weren’t so rude. They didn’t lay on the horn, block intersections, etc. Well, the fine for blocking an intersection is 3 or 4 times what it is here, and it’s enforced. So, people don’t do it.

  19. mad hatter    Fri Mar 21, 10:56 PM #  


    Your reference to police as “popo” suggests that you’ve either been arrested, spent time as a lookout on pharmaceutical transactions, or done none of this and are simply a bitter hippie trying to press your “street cred” with the impressionable blogger community.

    I’m an avid reader of your blog and enjoy your posts. Based on what I’ve read, I can safely say that you’ve got a few brain cells stashed away up there. Now, take those brain cells and use them. Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs is my preferred term) are human beings too. If you’re going to literally interpret your free speech rights and antogonize a LEO, it stands to reason that the LEO will literally interpret Florida Statutes to your detriment and, trust me, there’s a lot of potential detriment in the law. In light of that, why don’t you just be a nice guy and, for the most part, you’ll see that the LEOs will reciprocate and exercise their discretion (although I don’t think there’s any discretion that can be exercised when you’re driving blitzed through a DUI checkpoint on the MacArthur).

    Enjoy your bike trip and be careful with those crazy SoFla drivers and the popo’s. Not to mention the DUI’s driving down US1.

  20. Rick    Fri Mar 21, 11:11 PM #  

    Alesh…I’ll ask you again: What would you like to see happen? What do you want the police to do?

    Arrest everyone with a suspended license? Arrest the most egregious violators? Confiscate their cars?

    I mean, it’s great to sit there behind the keyboard and bitch and bitch and bitch and offer no commentary except, “This sucks.”

    And, yes, this is a post in which you are, again, busting on cops. How? You’re saying that Miami has crappy drivers because cops are letting people without valid licenses “get right back on the road,” like it’s all their fault.

    Tell us how you would fix the system, Alesh. Or just quit your whining until you can articulate a better way, or, hell, just another way, of doing things.


  21. alesh    Sun Mar 23, 03:49 PM #  


    Yes, I know the police sometimes do “nice” things. Rick was even good enough to document an instance where a Broward police bought a new bicycle for a kid, “just so we’d have something to link to.” (Of course we can’t link to it now, but it lives vividly in our memory.) The reason why I find police doing wrong more noteworthy then police doing right is that when they do right they’re doing their friggin jobs, and when they do wrong they’re violating the specific trust with which they’ve been entrusted. Think of the guy processing your credit cards at the bank HQ. When he does it right, that’s like the police saving someone’s life; doing his job. When he sells your identity on the black market, that’s like the police beating someone up.

    So let’s set the record straight: I’m pro-police. I’m pro them doing their job and not breaking the law and pushing people around just because they fucking can. I’m angry because there’s a small minority that do the latter for fun and/or convenience, and there’s a larger group that turns a blind eye because of some blue line bullshit.


    You know, it’s not the people driving fast and weaving out of traffic that bother me. At least those people are paying attention.


    I think you’re correct on both points. BTW, in many foreign cities I’ve been, horn use is much much more prevalent. There’s sort of a constant chatter of horn blowing . . . it’s annoying at first, but once you get used to it it sort of makes sense. And I think it helps the traffic move along. Sometimes I think we need more horn use on our streets.


    You’re exactly right — the way people drive depends on what’s enforced. If I was king for a day I’d instruct the police to start enforcing the intersection-blocking and the turn-signal use. Instead we get stings and mass-ticketing on the get over law and FHP that pulls people over for riding in the HOV lane and nothing else (sorry to harp on that).

    mad hatter~

    My reference to police as “popo” suggests that I’ve spent time watching The Wire. Surely you’re not suggesting that the LEO’s (i love it) are reading my blog and that my treatment should I run afoul of the law will be determined no how much preemptive ass I kiss?

    Or hey, maybe you are the one coordinating all this, and that’s how you know all the possible ways I could know the term popo… maybe you’re on, like, some cyber-squad, monitoring the local webospheres, keeping an eye on who might need a talking to??


    I already said — I DON’T KNOW!! They’re the experts, let THEM figure it out. I’m just noting that what they’re doing is broken.

    #7 anon pointed out that you can have your license suspended for all sorts of non-MV reasons, so, fine — let’s let those folks go. Suspended for driving infractions? Why not lock them up and impound their cars. I also think that more regular testing and license renewal would help. Hello — why does my cat’s license have to be renewed every year, but my friggin’ driver’s license is good for four years?

    Yes, I’m criticizing, tho in this case I think it’s the upper-level decision makers who set this policy, right? The individual FHP officers aren’t deciding that everything except driving in the HOV lane flies, right??

    Lastly, I object to the “propose your alternative to the system or don’t criticize the way things are” bullshit. There are experts who can do much better then I did two paragraphs ago to fix the system. They make a living at it. If we (the public? the ones supposedly in charge??) tell them to, they should be able to come up with a better solution then some J-random blogger. (Barring that, give me the money to study the problem for 6 months or so and I’ll give you a solution that’ll knock your socks off.)

  22. yasmine    Sun Mar 23, 07:55 PM #  

    Fuck da police, Alesh! Right? You’ve said it before and I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not afraid to say i can’t stand those guys and you shouldn’t be either.

    i hope to read more “critical” posts on those donut eating m-fers here, too. LOL.

  23. Rick    Sun Mar 23, 09:47 PM #  

    Whatever, Alesh.

    I think you oughta stick to Twittering bicycle updates. They make a lot more sense and, quite honestly, are a lot more entertaining.


  24. mad hatter    Sun Mar 23, 10:34 PM #  


    Sorry to burst your bubble on the whole “cyber-squad” thing, but I’m not Shaquille O’Neal.

    BTW, I prefer The Shield.

  25. alesh    Mon Mar 24, 07:44 AM #  

    Rick~ Gee, I’m sorry you didn’t find this post relevant and/or interesting to your life. Hopefully you won’t mind if I disregard your advice and go right on blogging about whatever I damn well please. Glad you find at least some of it entertaining, tho.

  26. Rick    Mon Mar 24, 08:40 AM #  

    It was just a suggestion, Alesh. Really, you excel at it. Actually, you may be the bestest Twittering bicyclist in South Florida.

    Get down with your bad self.

    [Did I say that right?]


  27. i'm GLAD i wasn't there..    Mon Mar 24, 10:54 PM #  

    i love rick…figuratively speaking, that is…