A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

About That DUI Checkpoint On Miami Beach Friday Afternoon

Last Friday night (12/28/2012), in the middle of the holiday vacation season, there was a DUI Checkpoint on the way to Miami Beach. When I say "on the way," I mean at about 6:30 p.m.

Now let me say this: I don't have a problem with DUI Checkpoints. They have to be advertised and they usually snag a good number of drunk drivers and others with suspended licenses and other issues. They serve a purpose, and all that. With the advent of social media, "advertised" takes on a whole new meaning. As you are preparing to go out, or go home, check your Facebook or twitter feed and you're sure to find a note about the checkpoint and be able to avoid it.

And I'm sure this one, at 6:30 the other night, caught a few post-happy hour folks on their way to dinner and some others who just can't fix their license suspension issues.

I just have a question, without offending MADD and the cops and the others who will cry that "getting one drunk driver off the street" is worth anything we have to do.

Here's the question: Don't most people drive drunk after a night out and not on their way to their night out? (note: I did hear there was also a late-night DUI Checkpoint on another road leaving Miami Beach) 

I ask this because when I started practicing law, I was placed in the DUI division of the county court. Most DUI arrests occurred after midnight and before 6 a.m. I know this because we would comment on the "odd" arrests that occurred in the early evening or post-sunrise morning hours.

Back to the decision to perform this DUI Checkpoint in the early evening hours on the one of three causeways to Miami Beach.

Several years ago I was on Miami Beach on New Year's Eve. I had some drinks. There was a DUI Checkpoint on the causeway from South Beach (the most popular of the three causeways). It took me over 2 hours to get to the checkpoint. If I was drunk, by the time I got there I would have been fine. It was a mess. Traffic was at a stand still. It was the last time I went to Miami Beach for New Year's Eve.

So let's look at this checkpoint last Friday night.

Miami is full of tourists, mostly visiting family for the holidays and the bowl game crowd is trickling in. It's the Friday before New Year's Eve. Dinner reservations are made, people are on their way to South Beach hotels to see family and friends, restaurants and bars await the big crowds with money to spend. It's 6 p.m.

I had dinner reservations on South Beach at 7:15 p.m. I knew about the checkpoint, so even though I had not consumed any alcohol, I took the north causeway to the Beach. No problem.

When I got to the restaurant, I saw the angry tweets and other postings from those who were turning around and advising others "don't go to Miami Beach tonight."

Did the city leaders know about this? Did the police sit down and say "we're going to basically stop traffic to the city on Friday night as people are on their way in?"

I doubt it. I assume the police just set up their checkpoint and if the merchants had to suffer a few lost customers on a holiday weekend due to the necessity to let the world know that you can't drink and drive, the hell with it. If people decide not to go to the Beach that night or turn around, at least the point was made.

Just seemed like a stupid idea.

 Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Share/Save/Bookmark okdork.com rules Post to Twitter

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Because There's Nothing To Say

But sometimes, 
we forget what we got, 
who we are, 
Oh who we are not, 
I think we gotta chance, 
to make it right 

- Amos Lee - Keep it Loose, Keep It Tight

It's early Saturday morning. My treasured Saturday morning where I sleep a little later after a long week of work. But today I couldn't lay in bed because I had two little girls down the hall sleeping peacefully, as I do every day - and I knew that 20 families elsewhere, didn't.

I write this not for you, for your comments, your "likes," or to whom you may forward. This is one of those posts I write to be able to come back to someday to remember my thoughts and feelings after the most horrific school shooting in American History.

Like you, yesterday when I initially heard that a gunman went in to a school and killed an adult, or two, or some number of adults based on whatever news source was rushing to be "first," I thought "that's terrible." But I was comforted to know that no kids were killed.

And then, as many of us say these days "my twitter stream blew up."

Ten, 18, 22, no 20.

Twenty homes with unwrapped presents, half-decorated Christmas trees, plans to go see Grandma next week, a life ahead.


They say there is nothing like losing a child. I wouldn't know. If there is nothing like losing a child, to an accident, or health issue, then knowing that you dropped your kid off for a day of elementary school and they were murdered, is in a category all alone.

As it goes, when things like this happen (and it was telling yesterday when a news reporter easily said "a school shooting like this"), we see people at their best, and worst. Yesterday House Majority Leader John Boehner, who is at the throat of President Obama, cancelled his scheduled briefing because it was a time for "the President to speak for the nation." That's leadership.

If you missed President Obama's speech yesterday, find it. It's up there with "ask not what your country can do for you," and similar Presidential speeches. He spoke not as a President, but as a father, a citizen of the world. He cried. I cried listening to him.

It's already started, and it will continue - people are and will say some stupid things right now. Maybe you think this is stupid. I don't know. But I want to say this about guns.

I don't like guns. I don't own a gun. I've shot guns at ranges and it was fun. I don't care if you own a gun. I don't want to take your gun away. I believe that you should be able to protect yourself.

But let's stop the talking points, the scripted thoughtless words. Stop saying that guns don't kill people. Guns kill people. People with guns kill people. Yes, beer bottles can kill people and moving cars can kill people, and a really sharp pencil can kill someone.

I, though, have not recently heard of someone going in to a school with a broken beer bottle, or pencil, or car, and killing innocent kids.

We need to stop thinking that any attempt at a solution is by definition, taking your gun away. No one is going to take your gun away. If you truly understand the Constitution, you understand that every right has a restriction. The First Amendment, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, all of them. The notion that every other Amendment can be restricted but 2, is without logic. You can't bring a gun on an airplane, in a bank, in a courthouse (unless you are law enforcement), and we're all OK with that. 

Those of you that say "gun control is not the answer," need to come up with an answer, because the answer is not to "do nothing" because we can never stop some deranged gunman from doing what was done yesterday.

I disagree.

I don't know that "gun control" as a concept would have changed anything yesterday because I don't have all the facts yet, and either do you. I do know that I'm OK with doing something to try - try - and prevent what happened yesterday. We can say that hurricanes will never stop, but we can change our building codes to make stronger homes.

I know that - wait, let me get it right - if guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns. But I heard that the guns yesterday were bought legally by the gunman's mother. If she wasn't allowed to buy an assault weapon..... Hell, I don't know, but I'm not stupid enough to think that those that are passionate about the Second Amendment have all the answers. I can only say that I don't. I'm not that smart.

I agree that creating laws at a time like this is never a good idea. Maybe it's not laws. Maybe its security, metal detectors, something. I just won't accept that the answer is to do nothing because anything we do won't work.

To the families affected by yesterday, I ache for you. I can not imagine your breakfast table today as you sit there speechless noticing the flashing lights from the tree in the other room, doing everything you can not to go down the hall to the bedroom. Know that America hurts today. 

I am glad the gunman is dead, because you will not have to suffer years of re-living this in court. I normally want to know why someone did what they did - but in this case I do not. Sick, demented, mad, whatever. It doesn't matter. May he burn in hell.

I could probably write about this all day. I drove home yesterday in a total fog, and like any parent, was thinking how easily it could have happened at my kid's school.

There's just nothing I can say, which makes me a hypocrite.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Share/Save/Bookmark okdork.com rules Post to Twitter