Prohibition in Florida Caused Major Problems

Dade County (Miami) voted itself dry in 1913. That was years before National Prohibition in 1920. Prohibition in Florida came early. People hoped that outlawing alcohol would reduce crime. That it would improve health. And it would protect women and young people.

But many residents and visitors objected to being unable to buy alcohol. It outlawed what they saw as their right. South Florida’s closeness to the Caribbean made it a natural place for bootlegging. Miami Beach openly flaunted the law.

Prohibition in Florida has a Long Past


Moonshiners and bootleggers bribed police and others. This was easy to do. In Fort Lauderdale, the sheriff, the assistant chief of police, and seventeen others were arrested. It was for conspiracy. The others included police officers and deputy sheriffs. Farther up the coast is South Jacksonville. Almost the entire city government was corrupt. This included the mayor, chief of police, head of the city council, city commissioner, and fire chief. A federal grand jury indicted all of them.

Prohibition in Florida
Prohibition in Florida caused major problems.

Law enforcers who were not corrupt often violated law themselves. It was to enforce Prohibition. In 1923, a U.S. Coast Guard boat was off South Florida. It had orders to capture a rumrunner. Beyond the three mile limit, if needed. It opened fire on the rumrunner beyond the that limit. So they illegally captured him there. They broke world-wide law.

There was clearly widespread corruption. But there also as illegal and often violent police action. This led to a lack of respect for law. It also created a harmful pattern of drinking. That was drinking less often but much more heavily. Speakeasies furthered to this problem.

Moonshiners hastily and made their product. They often used car radiators to make moonshine. They were soldered with lead. This led to lead poisoning. Many people were paralyzed, blinded, or died.


As time passed, the problems caused by Prohibition in Florida increased. Residents saw that it didn’t reduce crime. It created it. Didn’t improve health. It endangered it. And didn’t protect women and young people. It endangered them. In short, they realized that Prohibition was counter productive.

They voted over 80% for Repeal. They wanted an end to the disaster of National Prohibition.