Florida’s Fast & Furious: Florida bill seeks harsher penalties for street racing

Street Racing – Courtesy: Shutterstock — Bordovski Yauheni

A new Florida bill seeks harsher penalties against illegal street racing, anyone filming or recording races, and spectators. 

Senate Bill 258 is sponsored by Sen. Lauren Book and co-sponsored by Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, who said she has been fighting drag racing for several years.

“It’s been an ongoing, never stopping situation in Orange County,” Stewart said.

Stewart is very familiar with cracking down on street racing. In 2019, State Rep. Amy Mercado and Stewart introduced a bill that authorized law enforcement officers to arrest and charge street racers without actually witnessing a race. However, after a recent increase in drag racing, Stewart made it clear that she would like to see greater efforts after the more recent events.

“The penalty for first offenses right now is a misdemeanor, the second is a felony, we may look at penalties again,” she said.

Surveillance video captured a deadly collision that occurred on Monday, October 18, which Florida Highway Patrol suspects was a result of street racing. The driver lost his life after crashing into a light pole and overturning on East Colonial Drive in Orlando.

Street racing is out of hand and happens all over at all hours of the day and night.

“On a public roadway, on a very highly-populated road, US-192, I-4, S.R. 417, not only at 2 a.m. but 4 p.m., when families are driving home from school, when parents are coming back from work, when families are going out to Friday night dinner,” Montes said. “It’s out of control because of the risks that are being put out there for innocent drivers that have no idea what’s going on around them.”

Just this Saturday, Troopers quickly responded to a 15-vehicle crash on State Road 417 in Seminole County that involved 24 people and sent six people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“When we talked to the two individuals who caused the crash, at the hospital, they gave troopers different stories saying it was more an aggressive driving or road rage situation,” FHP Lt. Kim Montes said.

Montes stated that dashcam footage from a witness will help determine if the crash was caused by street racing.

While Stewart said she understands street racing is picking up speed again, she hopes that the bill will stop illegal drag racing by penalizing those who advertise and promote it on social media. 

“You cannot go on social media and promote street racing and that has been a big problem,” Stewart said.

The bill’s ban includes racing with mopeds, all-terrain vehicles, and other vehicles that are not licensed to run on regular roads.

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