Operation ‘Christmas Clearance’ — DUI checkpoint commended by city officers

By Kimberly Porter….

Vehicles are diverted of US1 into parking lot for license and probable cause assessment.

A DUI checkpoint aptly named Operation “Christmas Clearance” held December 11 at SW 62nd Avenue and South Dixie Highway was commended by City Commissioners December 13.

City Manager Hector Mirabile reported the operation resulted in 113 traffic citations and 28 arrests (seven for DUI; five narcoticrelated) and impounded nine vehicles.

Expressing his gratitude, Mirabile thanked those in attendance for supporting the department and the participating groups that included Advocate DUI Programs, Key Biscayne, Miami, and Sweetwater Police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Southland Towing and South Miami Police Explorers.

Vice Mayor Valerie Newman commended police for organizing the checkpoint, dramatizing the magnitude of drunk driving with a stark picture during the Commission meeting.

In June 2000, 16-year-old honor student Helen Marie Witty while rollerblading on the sidewalk along Old Cutler Road was struck and killed by a drunk driver. More than 10 years later, her story still upsets the community.

Her mother, an involved MADD member, of MADD, began the checkpoint operation by presenting each officer with a picture of her daughter.

“It was an extremely emotional event,” Newman said, describing surveillance efforts as “absolutely necessary. It sends out a message that we are not going to tolerate drinking and driving in the city of South Miami.”

Commissioner Brian D. Beasley said residents appreciated what was being done to prevent drinking and driving in the community, commenting motorists who were randomly halted on December 11 thanked officers for being stopped, adding “that was very telling to me.”


South Miami residents Lazaro and Isabel Tabares expressed high concern for excessive speeding by motorists along SW 80th Street during the December 13 City Commission meeting.

Ms. Tabares stated she is actually afraid to retrieve her mail from the mailbox due to the speed of passing cars on the residential street.The couple’s request to establish a traffic circle in the area has been denied by Miami-Dade County for potential traffic congestion that could result.

While they said they understood the county‘s rationale, the Tabares said they were now turning to the City to see if a traffic median would effectively slow down the traffic in place of a circle.

“Everyone who borders that street would like to see it [the speeding] addressed,” said Mayor Philip Stoddard, commenting he had seen pedestrians ‘clinging’ to roadside shrubbery to avoid speeding cars and that residents along SW 80th Street have often requested a bike lane or a sidewalk.

When Commissioner Brian D. Beasley pointed out that SW 80th Street was countymaintained and unable to be physicallychanged by the city, Stoddard observed that the problem lies not only in South Miami but along the entire length of SW 80th Street.

While not the Commission’s official call, Stoddard concluded such concerns could lead to negotiation with the county and that he would “make sure that public works keeps this on the burner.”

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