Writer's Ramblings

A Bad Night in Daytona

Written by  September 30, 2007

Editors Note: The author sent me this story a while back, but I decided to hold onto it until right before the next big Daytona rally so it would be fresh in your mind. This article has some great tips for trying to stay out of trouble if you're heading down to Biketoberfest this month or to Bike Week next year. Enjoy!

Daytona Beach is a really cool place. I’ve had some of the best times of my life there; I’ve also had some of the worst. If you look at a tourist brochure you’ll find that Daytona has many claims to fame; great weather, great fishing, gourmet restaurants, endless miles of sparkling beaches, all kinds of exciting activities such as Jai Lai, the dog track, indoor football, and of course the Daytona International Speedway, home of the Daytona 500. In fact, they bill themselves as the Speed Capital of the world. There is, however, one dubious title that you won’t see in any of the Chamber of Commerce literature, that being, 'Daytona Beach, the easiest place on earth to get arrested!'

It was Bikeweek 2002 and Mike and I arrived in Daytona at about 6:30 p.m. We checked into our motel room, which was right on the beach. Things were really cooking and costal highway A1A was full of bikes cruising back and forth. As always, the police were like barracuda sitting at the edge of a school of mullet rushing in constantly to feed on unsuspecting bikers. Just do 37 in the 35 mph zone and they hit you hard with a 'big buck ticket.' Welcome to Daytona ya’ll!

We got settled into our room and after about a half an hour or so I needed food and was itching to get out on my bike so we took off. We headed over to Booth’s Bowery on Nova Road. It’s a great place to eat and the wings are so hot that they’ll set your ass on fire the next day. We ordered sandwiches and drank a couple of beers (two each). By now it was close to 10:30 and I needed ice cream. We asked our waitress where the closest ice cream place was and she directed us to The Cow Lick which, as it turns out, was about two miles past our motel on A1A. We cruised on over, doing the speed limit of course because we know what happens if you don’t. You can see for miles down the road and the 'Bikeweek ticket orgy' was in full swing. There were flashing blue lights all the way up the beach. I really believe that they have contests to see who can write the most tickets and make the most arrests.

So we’re looking for The Cow Lick and soon Mike, who was in front, makes a hand gesture pointing to the other side of the road. I came up next to him and he says he thinks we passed it and it was closed. I said, “Okay then let's go on up to Baskin Robbins.” I then went ahead and Mike followed. Within what seemed like seconds there was a patrol car with blue lights flashing, hanging back about 50 yards behind us. I didn’t know if Mike saw it so I dropped back to warn him and to say just stay in the left lane and let him go by on the right. I really didn’t want to get run over by making a wrong move into his path. I went back in the lead and in an instant the cop floored it and ran right up on Mike's back wheel. Mike moved to the center turn lane to keep from being run over and so did the cop car. He didn’t know what to do so he made a left and the cop was literally no more than a foot from his rear wheel as they crossed over A1A and into the side street. I continued straight, watching this whole thing unfold in my rearview mirror. I still didn't believe he was after us. That is, until I was about a mile down the road and saw another cop car fly up to the road Mike went into and saw the original cop come tearing out at a high rate of speed in my direction. I thought, “Oh sh*t, they are after us!” So I immediately pulled into the first motel parking lot I came to, shut her down, and sat there side saddle waiting for him.

He comes flying into the parking lot, slams on his brakes, almost skidding into me, jumps out of his car with his hand on his gun, shouting over and over, “Why did you run from me, why did you run from me.” I was floored. I said, “Run from you; what are you talking about? I most certainly did not run from you; why would I run from you, we weren’t doing anything.” Then I asked, “Why are you pulling us over; why did you almost run over my friend?” He told me to shut up; he’d ask the questions. Shutting up has never been my strong suit, especially when harshly ordered to do so. I insisted that he give me an answer and he said, “Give me your license and after I run it I’ll tell you why I’m pulling you over”. He finds my driving record is spotless and he comes back and says, “I pulled you over because you were weaving all over the road.” He says he’s going to check me for being drunk. So he does every test he could think of and I passed them all. He spent several minutes trying to get me to move my head and not just my eyes to follow his f*cking pen. After a while, I wanted to take it away from him and plunge it into his forehead! He could have pistol whipped me and I wouldn’t have moved my head! I had it totally locked in place.

I told him we were going for ice cream and had only two beers in the last four hours. He finally let up and told me to go to Baskin Robbins and wait for my friend, which I did, only problem was that after 15 minutes Mike didn’t show up. I got on my bike and rode back to the last place I saw him. Now there were three cop cars with lights flashing and a paddy wagon. I stopped and asked what was going on and where was my friend. They said, “We’re arresting your friend for a DWI.” I said, “He’s had two beers in four hours, how could you be arresting him for DWI?” “He failed to walk the line,” one of them barked! It seems that Mike wears these cowboy boots with big radically tapered heels and sharp cockroach kickin' toes and he lost his balance a little and went off the line. Now he’s in the paddy wagon going to jail! I said, “What about his bike?” They said they were waiting for a tow truck to put his brand new Heritage on the hook and impound it. I said, “Geez you can’t do that, we’re just staying down the road. Can’t I ride it back for him?” They went to the wagon and asked Mike’s permission, came back, and said OK. I asked if one of them could follow me and bring me back for my bike and they said, “NO, GET A CAB.” I said, “I can’t leave my bike here while I ride back and call a cab, somebody will steal it!” One of them shouted, “YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS TO DECIDE AND THEN WE’RE GETTING THE TOW TRUCK!” I said, “Well, will you at least watch my bike for me?” One of them said, “Yeah sure,” which of course they didn’t! When I got back my beautiful Dyna was sitting there all alone and unprotected. It might as well have had a neon sign over it flashing STEAL ME, STEAL ME! I guess they didn’t want to waste valuable ticket/arrest time watching my $20,000 Harley. I guess in Daytona, real crime like grand theft doesn’t count during Bikeweek.

So before I could bail him out, Mike had to spend 12 hours in the county jail. I went out and got him at noon the next day. They did the breath test on him and he blew a .02. In fact, as he told me, they did it twice because they were so sure he was drunk and didn’t believe the first result. I read his arrest report and I said, “Hey Mike it says here you blew .05!” He flipped out because he knew what he had blown and they had lied on the report. It doesn’t matter, though, because in Daytona you can drink one beer and blow a .01 and be arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), .08 is DWI time. No matter what, you still have to go to court, still lose your license, get a huge fine, spend tons on lawyers, and do community service. How’s that sound for screwing up your entire life! How would you like to live in New York and have to travel back to Daytona in six weeks for court and a huge fine, and then, if they don’t throw your ass back in jail you gotta come back down again for weeks of community service. How would your boss take that news?

Mike is lucky and has huge financial resources behind him. He was able to retain the meanest, nastiest lawyer in Florida and just kicked their asses. Luckily, the predator’s video taped the whole affair and did the tests all wrong. The whole thing was tossed out of court, or as the game is played, 'reduced’ to 'being an ugly dirtbag biker in Daytona.' It still cost a ton in legal fees and fines though. Because of his tag and style (he looks like a biker), they thought Mike was just some loser from South Dakota who couldn’t fight them. I thank God every day for my great guardian angel, and that my style is motorcycle boots with a normal heel and not fancy cowboy boots with high tapered heels. If they had arrested me I would have been totally screwed. I don’t come from money and I shutter to think of what would have happened!

So now Mike will never set foot in Daytona again. He despises the place and the police too. I’d love to know how many other guys they’ve railroaded like that. Back in the 70s I saw a guy get arrested on Main Street when his bike overheated, seized up in traffic, and he shouted “Come on let’s f*cking go!” Three cops jumped him and dragged him off leaving his bike pulled to the side!

Here are some good tips for anyone thinking of going to Daytona for Bikeweek or Biketoberfest. Don’t do anything to call attention to your self with cops around. Stay off A1A, especially at night. There is another road named Peninsula Drive that runs parallel to A1A along the ocean side of the Halifax River. It goes all the way from the Ponce Inlet in South Daytona up thru Ormond Beach. It crosses right over Main Street at the light just below the Boot Hill Saloon. Use that instead. The 'barracuda’ don’t seem to hang out on that road too much. Not enough mullet for their taste I guess. NEVER, EVER exceed the speed limit any place you go. There are places in Ponce Inlet where the speed limit is 10 mph, and by God, you better not go 15 as the cops just wait for nice folks like you to fly into their web.

By Manfive Irish