The mega dirt-bike and ATV highway joyride “Wheels Up, Guns Down” is celebrated to bring fractious communities together, but the event tragically claimed lives again this year. Video footage shows these MLK-weekend riders seemingly overjoyed, popping wheelies and weaving through traffic in Miami Dade and Hialeah Counties, causing a wild spectacle and chaos on the roads.
A Weekend of Many Accidents
Many riders forgo helmets and get airborne on their back wheels, courting danger and sometimes finding it. In 2016, one rider’s accident had him flying fifty feet and miraculously surviving to take selfies of himself with rescue workers. This year, two men tragically lost their lives and many others were injured. A twenty-year-old ATV rider was doing tricks when he crashed on the Palmetto Expressway in Hialeah. Another man, age twenty-five, was riding a borrowed dirt bike near Fort Lauderdale, crashed, and did not survive cardiac arrest in his own terrible crash.
Other incidents included a car and four dirt bikes that ran afoul of each other, as did another car and a motorcycle. This all highlights the danger of both stunt-riding on four-wheel vehicles and taking unauthorized vehicles on major roadways. The “Bikes Up, Guns Down” movement is said to have begun in Baltimore, and the Florida ride’s name is supposed to be shorthand for the Maryland city’s riding culture and “Pick Up a Bike, Put Down a Gun” motto.
Good Intentions, but Dangerous to Other Motorists
So what happens if a ride meant to be a celebration and a peaceful protest gets hairy for other drivers and law enforcement? While the sentiment of the riders for attending is good, the risky behaviors could be characterized under the law as reckless riding and driving. Police have the challenge of keeping the peace, but one officer suggested that they did not want to make the roads more unsafe by giving chase in an already chaotic environment.
There was a concerted effort this year before the event, however, with police statements meant to try to discourage dangerous showboating. Another official said that while they may not be in hot pursuit via car, the police choppers could outpace anyone who failed to stop when ordered. The official said that Broward County citations ranged from $116 to $1,165 for doing wheelies or driving recklessly. Also, ATVs and dirt bikes are not supposed to be on major highways, and their riders can be penalized accordingly. Drivers on four-wheelers without helmets can also be ticketed.
Help from a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you encounter a joy rider or other reckless person behind a wheel—or on a bike—and he or she causes you to crash, damage your vehicle, or get injured, you can seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit if your damages meet the required minimum criteria. A skilled attorney can build a case to get you the largest settlement available under Florida law.
If someone thought that he or she was in control while cutting loose and you were the victim, it’s time to look into getting your expenses, injuries, and trouble covered. Call Lavent Law to find out why Florida drivers choose us for their reckless driving and highway cases. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 305-440-0450 or complete the form on this page.