Welcome to Miami, Convicted Drunk Driver & Rapper, Pitbull, Given Keys to the City.

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America is the land of opportunity and second chances and no city in America epitomizes this more than Miami, Florida. Armando “PittBull” Perez has been twice arrested for driving under the influence and once admitted to being a drug dealer in Miami. Typically, you would not expect someone with this type of pedigree to be awarded the keys to the city. However, on August 19, 2009, Commissioner Tomas Regalado did just that.

In Pitbull’s defense, and he seems to have had a very good one, he’s only been convicted once and that was eight years ago. His more recent arrest, December 2007, had serious problems with the State’s case. First, there was no breath test. Without that piece of scientific evidence, determining whether someone is drunk or not is very difficult, assuming they don’t fall down or…

Obviously the question of whether someone is drunk or not is highly subjective, particularly if you do not know the person. Who’s to say if a person is slurring their speech or just has an accent, especially in an international city like Miami. To deal with the variations from person to person, law enforcement developed the “Standardized Field Sobriety Exercises” also known as Road Side Exercises.

These Road Side Exercises are supposed to give an objective insight into a suspects ability to balance, listen, follow instructions and fine motor skills. For the Road Side Exercises to be effective, they must be done on a smooth, flat, well lit surface. In Pitbull’s case, they were done on a hill.

With no breath test and no reliable SFST’s Pitbull recently beat the 2007 driving under the influence charges. Shortly thereafter Commissioner Regalado was offering the keys to the city for Pitbull’s service to the community. While I think we can all agree that if an officer fails to follow procedure, the case should suffer accordingly, I’m not sure that an acquittal necessarily warrants the keys to the city. It will be interesting to see how Pitbull handles his elevation to “role model” status.

Associated Press: Bilingual Rapper Pitbull gets key to city of Miami