Sen. Jason Pizzo’s bill seeking to criminalize street takeovers and stunt driving sped through the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice Tuesday.
The Miami Democrat’s bill (SB 876) would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to take over a portion of a highway or roadway by blocking or impeding the regular flow of traffic in order to perform stunts like burnouts, doughnuts, drifting and wheelies.
He called the activity a “new phenomenon for kids and young adults.”
“Now they take over intersections, not allowing emergency vehicles to pass or access. And these are becoming incredibly dangerous… There are things now where they basically do crazy donuts at ridiculously high speeds and there’s a scoring system,” Pizzo said. “Recently, in Miami-Dade County, we had a mother of four who was decapitated at one of these events and they’re happening all over the place.”
It would also create penalties for spectatorship and filming events for promotional purposes. It does, however, include a carve out for First Amendment protections.
“I think we suggested the same line from (Florida Statute) 944.23, which is bona fide reporter or writer that can show such,” Pizzo said. “We have it right now for a number of underlying crimes. It’s not in good faith if it’s a recording that’s used for documentary purpose, but when it’s used in furtherance and during the commission of these events. That’s how it’s defined.”
FS 944.23 dictates who has access to state prisons. But it includes the language Pizzo referenced that says “permission shall not be unreasonably withheld from those who give sufficient evidence to the department that they are bona fide reporters or writers.”
The bill passed unanimously. It also passed the Senate Committee on Transportation with a unanimous vote. Its next stop is the Committee on Rules. After that, the bill will go before the full Senate.