Florida bill seeks harsher penalties for street racing

‘It’s been an ongoing, never stopping situation in Orange County,’ Sen. Linda Stewart said

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

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

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

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Stewart is no stranger to cracking down on street racing. In 2019 Stewart and State Rep. Amy Mercado introduced a bill authorizing law enforcement to arrest and charge street racers without witnessing the race. However, after a recent surge in illegal street racing, Stewart said she would like to see more done after some 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.

On Oct. 18, surveillance video captured a deadly collision on Colonial Drive which Florida Highway Patrol suspect was a result of street racing.

On Saturday, Troopers responded to a 15-vehicle crash on State Road 417 in Seminole County that sent six people to the hospital.

“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,” Kim Montes said.

While Stewart said she is aware street racing is picking up speed again, she hopes this bill that is expected to come up this session will halt illegal street racing by penalizing people who advertise 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 would also ban racing with mopeds, all-terrain vehicles and other vehicles not licensed to operate on roads.

About the Author:

Nicky Zizaza is an Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 6 nightside team in December 2018. She is originally from Rwanda and she started her journalism career in the nation's capital.