There must be some motor oil in my veins. 

I grew up on a racetrack, and it was a dream come true for this sports-car-obsessed teenage boy. My dad bought an old Porsche 944, and we built it into a road racer. It wasn’t fast, but it was fun and made his dream of racing come true. I learned how to drive stick shift in that car and began attending race driving schools. 

One rainy evening in my junior year of high school, I got in over my head while driving to my friend’s house and ended up taking out a mailbox while airborne and backwards.

That was not the only scary driving situation I endured that year, or in the years since. Being in crashes that totaled both cars and being one of the first to respond to deadly wrecks left indelible marks on me and slowed my driving to mostly safe speeds. 

Loud, modern American muscle cars. Nimble Japanese sport compacts. German Bahn burners. High performance cars doing burnouts, donuts, drifting, and even running drag races with thousands of dollars on the line on populated public streets. The exhibition driving videos on Instagram and TikTok look great for a gearhead, but have resulted in multiple injuries, deaths, and even murder in Birmingham. 

This must stop. 

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has rightly pushed for an end to these dangerous actions, including turning to the Alabama Legislature for laws to help end the practice. Their response has been unsurprising in ways that reinforce political stereotypes. Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) has essentially blamed the inanimate object, filing a bill that will see the vehicle impounded. Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris), a retired assistant chief of police, has filed a bill that will see the driver jailed and/or fined. 

When I was a lobbyist, I got along quite well with both legislators, and I still have respect for them even when I disagree with their stances. 

Treadaway’s HB 29 seeks to jail the driver between five days to three months and/or impose a fine between $25 and $500 for the first offense. The second offense would see the individual punished with jail time between 10 days and six months and/or a fine between $50 and $500. They could also be prohibited from driving for six months. 

Givan’s HB 107 only applies to Jefferson County and would see the vehicle towed and impounded for 10 days, 20 days, and 30 days for the first, second, and third offenses. 

There is a massive difference in exhibition driving events and finding a safe area to have a little fun. That difference ought to be reflected in the bills. The argument from law enforcement is that they need more strict punishments to make these dangerous drivers think twice. If harsher punishments ACTUALLY worked, our death penalty would have solved murder a long time ago. Being taken to our dangerously overfilled jails or losing your car for doing a burnout or a donut is too harsh of a punishment. 

A better option would be for organizations to host accessible events where people who have sunk massive amounts of time and money into cars that they’re passionate about can do such activities without endangering lives. Fines, seizing cars, taking away the ability to legally drive, and throwing people in jail may seem reasonable for these dangerous driving events, but the text of the bills will allow these laws to be applied to any driver whether anyone else is endangered. 

If we are going to put an end to this danger, we need better legislative options and organizations to provide a safe option for this kind of behavior. In the meantime, I call on you to speak to your senator to vote against HB 29 and HB 107 and their companion bills. 

Sean Grehalva is the Founder of Lycian Strategies, which provides lobbying, training, and consulting services. He believes that freedom may be messy, but it’s always better than the alternative.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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