Proposed Florida bill aims to enhance penalties for illegal street racing

A bill designed to crack down on illegal street racing in Florida is one step closer to a vote on the Senate floor.

Since early last year, News4JAX has been covering the ongoing issues surrounding these so-called “street takeovers.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has already gone after some of these racers and impounded their cars.

State lawmakers are looking to tackle the issue in another way.

The hope is by spreading the word, especially on social media, that there would be tougher penalties for street racing, it would keep racers off the street.

The proposed bill (SB 1764) would update laws established in 2022 related to things like drag racing, stunt driving and street takeovers.

If it becomes law, it will raise the fine for participating in illegal street racing or stunt racing to $4,000 for a first offense.

Violators would also lose their licenses for one year. The penalties would go up for repeat violators.

A second conviction within a year of the first one would result in a third-degree felony. That punishment would be up to five years in prison and a two-year license suspension.

If convicted a third time within five years, that would make it a second-degree felony, which could lead to a 15-year prison term, a $7,500 fine and the violator’s license suspended for four years.

Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, is the sponsor.

He believes spreading the word on social media will have a significant effect.

“This bill will be all over Instagram,” Pizzo said. “Word will get out that you can no longer get together on WhatsApp or Instagram or Snapchat that you should not be showing up. Word gets out to these kids that you can’t do it anymore. They’re not going to be deterred by the monetary effect they very often are using stolen vehicles so they are not worried about seizure or forfeiture but the subsequent conviction will result in the removal of their driver’s license.”

The proposed bill also gives clarity to the definition of “coordinated street takeover.” It would mean 10 or more vehicles operating in an organized way to affect a street takeover. Usually during those kinds of events, Pizzo says, hundreds of vehicles are involved.

“Street takeovers are a real problem,” he said. “People are dying. People are getting seriously injured and it’s a very coordinated and organized scheme. It has resulted in deaths in my district and entire cities including the one I live in being — it is a bad situation and I am trying to get ahead of it.”

The bill would also increase the fine for someone caught watching an illegal street takeover to up to as much as $500 instead of the current fine of $65.

There would be an enhanced penalty related to obstructing an emergency vehicle.

The bill now heads to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

There is also a companion measure in the House that is co-sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Rep. Kiyan Michael.

It needs to clear one more committee before going to a vote.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.