Some state lawmakers hope to put into place stricter penalties for those convicted of exhibition driving offenses, including burnouts, donuts, stunts, speed exhibition, racing and other “reckless driving maneuvers.”
State Rep. Allen Treadway (R-Morris) pre-filed House Bill 29, which creates criminal penalties for the aforementioned reckless driving. For the first offense, a driver could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A second offense could mean six months in jail and a $500 fine, plus the offender could have their license taken away for six months. As offenses increase, so do the penalties. However, three or more offenses could also lead to the seizure of a vehicle, according to the bill, because that vehicle would then be considered contraband.
There are also sections of the bill that outline if someone is hurt or killed due to the reckless actions of another. If a driver injures someone or damages property in the commission of an offense, they could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and could lose their license for six months. If they cause serious injury, they could be charged with a Class C felony and could lose their license for two years. In the case of the death of someone other than the driver, the person responsible could be charged with a Class B felony and, if convicted, would lose their license for at least two years. There are already existing laws that could lead to more charges in all cases.
The law would not apply to private motor speedways or private land where the land owner allows racing or stunt driving. Those in opposition say the penalties go too far, and there are already laws against reckless driving.
The sister bill in the Senate, SB 58, by State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), has been introduced.
State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) is also sponsoring a similar bill that applies only to Jefferson County. Treadway is a co-sponsor of the bill, making it a bipartisan effort to combat dangerous driving. HB 107 would allow for the towing and impounding of the driver’s vehicle for 10 days on the first offense, 20 days for the second offense, and 30 days for the third offense.
The city of Birmingham has seen deadly exhibition driving incidents over the years. Exhibition driving in the city has also led to police chases, fights and shootings. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has vowed to work with lawmakers to create stricter penalties and to use real-time cameras to find exhibition driving events as they are happening.
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