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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Florida troopers combating street racing, takeover events

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) has launched an initiative that aims to combat street racing, stunt driving, and roadway takeovers.

Florida law, enacted in 2022, prohibits dangerous driving behaviors that include street racing, takeovers, drag racing, donuts, burnouts, wheelies, drifting, and other related activities that create unsafe roadways.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), overtaking a roadway is dangerous for many reasons: it impedes the normal flow of traffic, it can delay emergency vehicles responding to individuals in need, and it endangers participants, spectators, and innocent bystanders.

“The reckless actions displayed by those participating in attempting to overtake roadways cause serious risk to themselves and others,” said FLHSMV Director Dave Kerner. “Florida is a law-and-order state, and we will continue to ensure that order and safety comes first. Florida State Troopers are trained to enforce the laws of the state and we will not hesitate to act against those who choose to participate in street takeover attempts or racing.”

Kerner stated that the individuals involved in overtaking roadways are not just committing dangerous acts – they are also criminals. When these individuals are stopped and detained, law enforcement often discovers narcotics, firearms, and warrants.

“Reckless drivers and participants do not care about your safety or the safety of your family, and FHP has prioritized shutting down these groups. They will be caught, and they will be prosecuted,” added Kerner.

Over the past four years, a total of 6,641 citations were issued for either street racing/stunt driving (a first-degree misdemeanor) or actively participating as a spectator (a non-criminal traffic infraction). FLHSMV data analysis has identified ages 16 to 29 as the key demographic for participants and spectators.

Under Florida law, drivers, passengers, organizers, promoters, and anyone in a vehicle who is filming participants can be charged with first-degree misdemeanors. Spectators can be cited with a non-criminal infraction and subjected to civil penalties under section 318.14, Florida Statutes.

The consequences of violating the law include jail time, driver’s license revocation, and fines imposed by the county ranging from $500 to $5,000. Other financial impacts include the cost of vehicle towing, impoundment, court fees, and indirect financial hardships created by the lack of a vehicle or driver’s license suspension/revocation.

In response to this criminally negligent activity, FHP is raising public awareness and targeting individuals who participate in dangerous and illegal street takeovers and street racing, spectators, passengers who knowingly ride in a participating vehicle, and those who promote these events on social media.

According to FLHSMV, anyone who encounters illegal street racing should remain calm. Safely pull over to the side of the road and report it. If in immediate danger, call 911; otherwise, dial *FHP (*347) to reach the nearest dispatch center.

An arrest can be made without a warrant if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe an individual is involved in this criminal behavior. If you have knowledge of an upcoming event or can identify participants, FLHSMV asks that you send an email to: [email protected], and provide any corresponding documentation. This information could lead to an investigation.

For more information on the Florida Highway Patrol’s initiative to combat roadway takeovers, street racing, and stunt driving, visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles ‘Stop Racing’ webpage.