Miami Beach is breaking up with spring breakers

City of Miami Beach code enforcement and police officers patrol along Ocean Drive, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Miami Beach, Fla. (Image via AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

By Crystal Harlan

March 5, 2024

The city is warning spring breakers to “expect curfews, security searches, and bag checks on beach access points, early beach closures, DUI checkpoints, bumper-to-bumper traffic, road closures, and arrests for drug possessions and violence.”

After three consecutive years of spring break violence–including two fatal shootings and unruly crowds—the City of Miami Beach has announced that it’s “breaking up” with spring break.

“Hey Spring Break, we’re over” and “It’s not us, it’s you. We just want different things,” the City of Miami Beach posted in a video on X.

To curtail large crowds, public intoxication, and violence, the city is warning spring breakers to “expect curfews, security searches, and bag checks on beach access points, early beach closures, DUI checkpoints, bumper-to-bumper traffic, road closures, and arrests for drug possessions and violence.”

Miami Beach’s spring break webpage reminds spring breakers that the following activities are illegal:

  • Consumption of alcohol in public
  • Smoking tobacco or marijuana on beaches or in parks
  • Possession or consumption of narcotics
  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving a scooter or vehicle irresponsibly
  • Violence of any kind

These activities are prohibited on the beach:

  • Smoking cigarettes or filtered tobacco products
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Narcotics and marijuana
  • Large tents, tables or similar structures
  • Loud music
  • Large coolers
  • Glass containers
  • Styrofoam and plastic straws


In addition to road closures, there will be parking restrictions in the area, including street and parking garage closures during the busiest days of spring break. Beach entrances on Ocean Drive will be limited to 5th, 10th, and 12th streets and will have security checkpoints to ensure prohibited items do not enter the beach.

Ocean Drive’s cafe and restaurant sidewalk seating will also be shut down from March 8-10 and March 15-17.

Although many of these restrictions aren’t new, in past years, they were instituted as emergency measures during spring break. Now they’re being put into place ahead of time.

However, some civil rights advocates say that the restrictions are racially motivated as South Beach has become a popular destination for Black tourists.

Stephen Hunter Johnson, an attorney and member of Miami-Dade’s Black Affairs Advisory Board, said city officials are only cracking down so hard because many of the visitors are Black.

“Everybody loves this idea that they are free from their government intruding on them,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “But amazingly, if the government intrudes on Black people, everyone’s fine with it.”

Miami Beach’s mayor rejects the notion that the city’s actions have anything to do with race.

“I have a moral obligation to keep people safe, and right now, it is not safe,” said Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner.

Miami Beach is not the first Florida spring break destination to implement increased safety measures.

In the Florida Panhandle, the longtime spring break destination of Panama City Beach has experienced a similar escalation in violent crime.

“When you think of spring break, you might think of vacation, a collegiate break, maybe some fistfights and some keg stands,” Panama City Beach Police Chief Eusebio Talamantez told the Associated Press. “It has evolved into shootings, mass riots, rape, and homicide.”

Panama City Beach’s violence came to a head in 2015 when a house party shooting left seven people wounded. The city subsequently banned alcohol on the beach and cracked down on unpermitted events, among other things.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

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