Sen. Lauren Book is hoping to strengthen the state’s laws against drag racing in a bill which would, in part, target those who promote and coordinate illegal races via social media.
Book, a Plantation Democrat, is bringing back legislation she filed before the last Session. Her previous attempt stalled, dying in the Transportation Committee.
This year’s version (SB 258) would amend state statute regulating racing on highways to clearly add “roadways,” “parking lots” and “organized rides” to the list of regulated areas. The bill defines “organized rides” as “the operation of more than three motor vehicles that cause the movement of traffic to slow or stop for any race, competition, contest, test, stunt, or exhibition of a vehicle’s performance capabilities or of a driver’s ability in violation of this section.”
The bill also explicitly bars racing with mopeds, all-terrain vehicles and other vehicles not licensed to operate on roads.
In addition, the measure aims to crack down on race spectators and organizers who utilize social media.
Current law already bars individuals from knowingly being a “spectator” at an illegal race. The existing statute defines a spectator as “any person who is knowingly present at and views a drag race, when such presence is the result of an affirmative choice to attend or participate in the race.” Factors used to determine whether someone meets that definition include “the relationship between the racer and the individual, evidence of gambling or betting on the outcome of the race, and any other factor that would tend to show knowing attendance or participation.”
Book’s bill would explicitly add “filming or recording the race, or posting on social media” to the list of factors used to consider whether someone is a knowing spectator.
Existing law also bars participating in, coordinating or facilitating such races. Book’s legislation would clearly state that coordinating a race “through social media or otherwise” is prohibited.
This isn’t the first time in recent years lawmakers have targeted drag racing. In 2019, legislators approved a bill relaxing the need for law enforcement to witness a race in order to make an arrest.
With lawmakers beginning to gather in Tallahassee this week, Book is again looking to win approval for the bill — by an inch or a mile — this upcoming Session.