Report: Ultra Music Festival Arrests Down From Years’ Past

A number of factors appear to have played a role in lower arrest rates at South Florida’s premier electronic music festival in Miami this year compared to years past. festival

The Miami Herald reports there were a total of 35 arrests over the course of the three-day revelry at Bayfront Park, which was attended by more than 150,000 mostly-young guests from around the globe. This number of arrests represents a 50 percent drop from 2016, continuing the downward arrest trend that began in 2013.

Police officials say part of it has to do with a number of changes, including increased police enforcement and a crowd that is maturing. Authorities say educating the public was a big part of this success, as was close cooperation with the event creators and promoters. 

For years, Ultra had been an ultra-headache for local authorities, and resulted in hundreds of arrests for crimes like assaults, batteries and drug offenses. There were also numerous calls for fire and rescue squads for incidents ranging from drug overdoses to situations wherein patrons were trampled. In one such case, a security guard nearly died when throngs breached a fence, trampling her and causing severe traumatic brain injury. She later recovered $10 million in a civil settlement against the city.

This the festival’s 18th year, and for many of those, it had a reputation as drug-infested. In one federally-funded study, researchers traded a $20 Dunkin’ Donut gift card for 100 people in the audience to anonymously pee into a cup. Eighty percent tested positive for drugs. Seventy-two percent admitted to having consumed marijuana, cocaine and/or ecstasy during the week.

But at this most recent year, fire and rescue officials say it seemed as if attendees were heeding advice to lay off the drugs, or at least not consume as much. There was a “precipitous” drop in the number of emergency transports to the local hospital for drug overdoses. The fewer arrests, too, was reflective of enhanced enforcement.

After the 2014 incident which almost killed the security guard, officials pressed for a number of important changes to the rules, all of which may have had an impact on the lower arrest numbers being reported. Those changes include:

  • Attendees must be at least 18-years-old.
  • Drugs and bottles may be dropped off in “amnesty boxes” with no questions asked near the entrance.
  • Only water and fanny packs are allowed inside the park.
  • Roving teams of graduate students are available for constant assistance.

Another factor is that the event itself has gotten increasingly expensive, which has drawn an overall older crowd, somewhat less prone to reckless imbibing.

Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys know many of the attendants who were arrested and now face charges are from out-of-town. In fact, Florida overall has a higher rate of out-of-town offenders just by virtue of the fact that we have a bustling tourism industry. Raising a proper defense from another state or country can be difficult, but it’s not impossible when you have an experienced defense lawyer who understands the local and state laws and procedures. We can often help you reduce your trips back to the state to answer for the charges, if you need to return at all.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

Ultra nice — arrests and medical calls way down at this year’s Ultra Music Festival, March 27, 2017, By Charles Rabin, The Miami Herald

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