Authorities in Miami Beach are gearing up for spring break by putting tough measures in place to make sure chaos and unruly behavior from previous years is not repeated in 2024.
Each year, thousands of college revelers descend on the beaches, bars and nightclubs of the Magic City to celebrate, but recent years have been marred by crime, violence and deadly shootings.
Last year, there were two deadly shootings in Miami Beach and nearly 500 arrests while more than 100 guns were seized, according to Miami Beach Police. The city set curfews after the shootings.
The Miami Beach City Commission voted Wednesday to enact a number of hardline measures to clamp down on the ugly behavior, including midnight curfews and the 6 p.m. closure of the beach in South Beach during the two weekends in March.
There will also be harsher fines for those who break the law.
Officials announced there will also be a heavier police presence this year, with the Florida Highway Patrol and other municipalities joining forces with Miami Beach to help patrol the city.
“We’re shutting the door on spring break once and for all,” Commissioner Alex Fernandez said, according to NBC. “Lawlessness will not be tolerated in Miami Beach.”
During the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, students migrated to Florida to enjoy the relatively relaxed COVID-19 policies, cheap flights and hotels. These factors created a perfect storm and a nightmare for law enforcement in beach towns along the state’s coast.
In 2022, the city similarly imposed a midnight curfew following two shootings, also on Ocean Drive. In 2021, there were about 1,000 arrests and dozens of guns confiscated as Miami Beach officials took steps to calm rowdy spring breakers.
This year, beach entrances along Ocean Drive will be limited and staffed with security, while a towed vehicle will cost $516, doubling the regular price.
Marijuana possession and reckless behavior could also result in harsher penalties if other proposals are implemented.
The city said a civil penalty of $100 in place has failed to discourage the possession and use of marijuana in public spaces, Infobae reports.
Meanwhile, there will be license plate readers installed and DUI checkpoints on the MacArthur Causeway and Julia Tuttle Causeway that will reduce traffic to one lane while commissioners are asking Miami-Dade County to close off public access to the Venetian Causeway, NBC reported.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also acknowledged the need for law and order during this year’s festivities.
“Spring break is what it is, but it should not be impeding the functioning of businesses in the area,” DeSantis said, according to WSVN.
“It should not be impacting the quality of life of our residents. So, you have our support at the state level to do what you need to do to make sure the quality of life of your residents (is) maintained and order in the streets is maintained and businesses are able to function appropriately like they should.”
However, not all locals agree with the impending clampdown.
Joey Morrissey, vice president of Club M2 in Miami Beach, said he fears the restrictions will backfire as large crowds try to navigate through South Beach.
“I believe it will hurt the town more if I’m not open. If these kids don’t have a place to go,” Morrissey told NBC.
“You can’t stop it. These kids booked hotel rooms, they’ve spent money, they’re coming here. Now you’re going to create the chaos.”
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.