Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and a handful of state legislators announced their intention on Tuesday morning to back a bill in the upcoming legislative session in spring 2023, which seeks to impose higher penalties on drag racing, burnouts, donuts and other reckless driving activities. 

These activities are referred to collectively as "exhibition driving," and Woodfin has been a staunch critic of it in the past.

According to Law Insider, exhibition driving is "driving a vehicle in a manner which disturbs the peace by creating or causing unnecessary engine noise, tire squeal, skid, or slide upon acceleration or braking or driving and executing or attempting one or a series of unnecessarily abrupt turns."

In August, Woodfin vowed stricter penalties in response to a teenage female being shot after a conflict between "exhibition drivers."

In July, a 14-year-old pedestrian, Kamari Deshaun Adams, was killed after he was struck by a car during a race in west Birmingham.

Woodfin said that the August killing prompted the effort to increase penalties.

Woodfin joined the members of the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation to propose the legislation. It was developed alongside the Birmingham Police Department (BPD) and members of the Alabama Legislature.

The bipartisan effort has the backing of State Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris), State Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham) and State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), according to a press release from Woodfin's office.

Treadaway authored the bill, and it is co-sponsored by Hollis. Smitherman agreed to sponsor a version of the bill in the Senate.

The bill would impose a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of as much as $500 for a first-time conviction for "exhibition driving." A second conviction could result in as many as six months in prison.

Smitherman said he has personally witnessed donuts and drag races in downtown Birmingham and realized that the threat to public safety was considerable.

"This dangerous form of driving has been a direct cause of death and widespread property damage," said Woodfin. "This legislation gives our police more tools in enforcement, our courts stronger penalties, and a clear message to those who break the law: we're coming for your vehicle and your driving privileges."

The regular legislative session will convene in March 2023.

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