Street racing bill passes Senate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The House already approved an identical bill.

A bill giving police the chance to arrest and charge street racers without witnessing the race was approved Friday by the Florida Senate.

The Senate voted 39-0 Friday to approve Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando. That the measure will reach Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ desk because last week the House approved the identical House Bill 611, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando.

It would allow law enforcement officers to build cases against street racers without actually witnessing the race and make arrests without seeking a warrant. The bill provides for the use of video, witnesses and other evidence to bring charges.

The bill allows police and prosecutors to trigger a “misdemeanor exception,” allowing for enforcement of the misdemeanor of street racing as if it were a felony.

Earlier, Stewart talked about how law enforcement officers hands are tied because they must witness the racing, yet many law enforcement departments also have no-chase policies. Meanwhile willing witnesses, oftentimes people with homes or businesses along the road, complain, sometimes offering video, only to be turned away.

“This misdemeanor exception will allow law enforcement to work up a case against street racers instead of what the current situation is where they have to actually witness the crime,” Stewart said earlier. “It is difficult to witness street racing and then make arrest because most law enforcement agencies have ‘no chase’ policies for safety.”

Orlando in particular has seen a surge in street racing over the past 18 months, to the point that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has rolled out a special unit to track down racers and catch them in the act.

Racing has a lengthy definition in Florida law: “the use of one or more motor vehicles in competition, arising from a challenge to demonstrate superiority of a motor vehicle or driver and the acceptance or competitive response to that challenge, either through a prior arrangement or in immediate response, in which the competitor attempts to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle, to prevent another motor vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another motor vehicle or motor vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes.”

Racing is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year in jail, a one-year license suspension and a fine of up to $1,000. The court fine is in addition to a moving violation fine that can range from $500 to $1,000 for a first-time offender. The penalties ratchet up to a 2-year license suspension and a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 for a second conviction. A third conviction results in a 4-year suspension and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000.

Passengers who knew the driver was going to a race can face the same penalties, as can race organizers.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


21 comments

  • Hugh Janus

    April 28, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Without seeking a warrant. So, no need to build a case and then seek a warrant? Wonder if there will be any constitutional issues with this new legislation?

    • Eric Whitmore

      April 28, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      You know there will be because due process is guaranteed under the constitution and this does not follow that. They make arrests based on feelings and not facts. It’s crap and they know it.

  • Michael Gonsalves

    April 28, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    wait so youre telling me if im driving a loud car they can just assume i was street racing and boom i go to jail? lmao so they dont even have to see you doing something illegal and they can take you to jail. seeeemmms ligit

    • Jason

      April 30, 2019 at 8:49 am

      Well the article said they could use video and witness statements to bring charges. Kinda like every other crime. The cops don’t usually see people get murdered. But, if it was on video and they had people testifying that they saw you do it, then they could charge you with it. Even with this new law, people will still get their day in court. If idiots wouldn’t video their illegal activities and post them on the internet, it wouldn’t be an issue.

      • Jason

        April 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm

        Haha this is truly the smartest comment I’ve read! All these dumb asses wanting to post their illegal activities on social media just so they can get likes! 👍

  • eddie hill

    April 29, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    So if your bitchy neighbor or spiteful ex calls the cops and says she witnessed you racing, then your ass is grass ? this can’t be happening.

  • Hugh Mungus

    April 29, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    So basically it’s going to be Salem witch trials but for car enthusiasts.

  • Thec

    April 29, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    This is all bs. Don’t even fall for this story .

  • Bruce Walker

    April 30, 2019 at 8:51 am

    So you get a felony because some one said they seen you racing on the streets, good luck getting this one to stand up in court. So much for innocent tell proven guilty.

  • lou sassoul

    April 30, 2019 at 10:22 am

    democrats are the enemy, always have been, remember that when the time comes

    • elmerfudd

      April 30, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      And yet another brain washed fool from the right has to spout BS they Know nothing about

      • TeslaHaxz

        April 30, 2019 at 1:44 pm

        You didn’t counter his statement.

        • Lungs of Steel

          May 5, 2019 at 7:44 pm

          Never doubt the stupidity of the right. That’s all that’s needed.

          The Dems have their issues, but not as profound.

    • Lungs of Steel

      May 5, 2019 at 7:42 pm

      Voted for by the Florida Congress. Who’s the majority again?

  • Johnson Trump

    April 30, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Just more control of the government on its people. We live in a “free” land but its more like a enclosed caged fence that gets smaller and smaller by the day.

  • Nathan

    April 30, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    With video easily edited to look like real footage… and if people generally don’t loke you it can be real easy to get someone locked up for this…

    Glad I don’t live in Florida…. if this law passes … I’m going to #boycottflorida because of this law…. they have a fast looking car… lets lock em up and steal their car.

    Nope nope nope

    • Nathan

      April 30, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      Well cant edit a misspelled word “like

  • Harold Willett

    April 30, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    I’ll tell you why I don’t like this as well as it’s unconstitutional and won’t hold up if it goes to a republican court that follows the Constitution. This is just the first step in taking away our rights as citizens. You let one get passed they start coming. Street racing is wrong yes and so are just plain stipud how they do it but the smart guys actually do it the same way. So you don’t like me you get a few others that don’t like you they call the police and say i saw him racing really? Come on anyone that allows this to become law is a fool. People you had better raise hell and get these democrats out of office or you’ll be under Sharia law before you know it and yes I’m serious. They car more about these Muslims then they do about our vets and that’s not just my thinking it’s fact if you’ll just thanks time to find out and see for yourselves. Yes Jesus is coming back but we must fight all we can so that things are barrable at least. You better wake up and no I’m not condoning street racing either I’m in support of our human rights.

  • Bob

    April 30, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    What happened to innocent untill proven quilty?
    What happens if your cruising( not racing) in a car and someone doesn’t like you, they make a complaint, then your arrested??

  • John P

    April 30, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    The good old days when I leave one heck of a long Smokey burnout with my old Dodge Challenger. I really didn’t street race but man the burnouts were impressive.

    But too many kids today have those little rice rockets and they’re just not safe with him and that goes for motorcycles too. But is another commenter said it seems we are guilty automatically. And that’s not right.

  • Mg

    April 30, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I just wish they would take actaul serious crime more seriously. Like texting and driving or DUI’s.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704



This is default text for notification bar