Alabama Law Targets Illegal Drag Racing with Increased Penalties
If you’ve been displaying your car’s horsepower by illegally drag racing on Alabama’s rural roads, a new law just put the spotlight on you. The state’s legislature hasn’t gone so far as to put a bounty on your head, but they have increased fines and raised the stakes with penalties you could face in an effort to curb what they consider a dangerous activity.
While participants are unlikely to approve of the new legislation, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama believes the growing problem of drag racing on the state’s back roads poses a serious danger to both spectators and law-abiding drivers. Vehicles can lose control, striking bystanders, and unsuspecting drivers risk running into cars racing at high speed, blocking both lanes.
The law went into effect in early June after Gov. Robert Bentley signed the bill, intended to increase safety on rural roads by imposing harsher penalties on not only the drag-racing participants, but on bystanders as well.
Before the new law was conjured up and took effect, drag racing penalties were not considered excessively strict. Mostly because spectators were not cited. Furthermore, punishment for a first drag racing offense, under the old law, was up to 90 days of jail time or a $500 fine. For a second offense, drag racers faced up to 6 months in jail or fined $500. Violators were also prohibited from operating a motor vehicle for up to 6 months on Alabama’s public highways.
However, under the new law, legislators decided to drop the hammer on anyone participating in an illegal drag race on rural roads to include both the racers and spectators alike.
The new law states that “anyone convicted of drag racing on a public road will have their driver’s license suspended for up to six months for their first offense and up to one year for subsequent offenses”.
Should that not be enough to get potential drag racers’ to curb their competitive spirit to lay rubber on the asphalt, perhaps the fact that fines and probation penalties will be imposed on participants, and vehicles involved could be impounded at the scene of the race. In addition:
• For a first offense, participants will receive a $500 fine and 30 days probation.
• For a second offense, a $3,000 fine and six months of probation will be imposed.
• For third and subsequent offenses, participants will be required to pay a $6,000 fine and serve one-year probation.
• Bystanders/spectators will also be fined up to $500.
According to Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Demopolis, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, “one of the things that encourages drag racers is the crowds of people who come out to observe the races”.
To the surprise of legislators, the new law received full bipartisan support, passing in the Senate by a vote of 27-0 and unanimously in the House by a vote of 103-0.
How the increased penalties affect drag racing on the state’s quiet country roads remains to be seen, but proponents believe it can’t help but have a positive effect.
One thing is for certain, getting caught drag racing will have a negative effect on your car insurance. You may even have your policy canceled. Avoiding both can save you a trunk full of cash.
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