Too Fast, Too Furious, Too Bad You Have No More Car

Lawmakers craft bill designed to take keys from street racers – permanently

In the first week in April, Dallas police made 193 traffic stops related to street racing, towed nine cars, and made five felony arrests.

But even with a street racing task force, officers know that with existing laws, they can ticket spectators and drivers, and tow vehicles, but it doesn’t really serve as much of a deterrent.

“If we stop you … you can get arrested, your car gets towed, but as soon as you are released you can take your paperwork to the auto impound, have your car released, and two days later you’re able to race again,” Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Jesse Reyes told a state house committee in March.

“This car is their baby. It’s their girlfriend. So this is another tool in our toolbox.”

Jesse Reyes

But a new bill filed by state representatives John Turner, Morgan Meyer, and Toni Rose may give police more in their tool kit – the ability to permanently take the keys of the cars of repeat offenders, or those who break other laws while racing.

If passed, House Bill 2315 would let police seize and potentially forfeit cars used in street racing. First-time offenders would likely get ticketed, but repeat offenders and those who (for instance) were driving while intoxicated or with an open container of alcohol could find themselves without a car.

“These events are already illegal,” Turner told the Texas House Judicial Jurisprudence committee. “But we do need additional tools.”

Reyes and City of Dallas attorney Chris Caso testified in favor of the measure.

“This is a tool that will help the police departments, because we’re writing the tickets, and it’s not making an impact on these folks,” Caso said.

Taking their cars, however, hits them where it hurts.

“This car is their baby,” Reyes said. “It’s their girlfriend. So this is another tool in our toolbox.”

The Dallas City Council made it a priority to lobby the state legislature to provide officers with more enforcement options.

“One of the legislative priorities of our city council this session is to expand enforcement tools available to DPD, so they can do more to stop street racing,” said Dallas city council member Cara Mendelsohn.

The North Dallas Chamber of Commerce also supports the bill, and sent a letter of support to the committee.

“Dallas and Texans across the state have seen a significant increase in illegal and dangerous street racing in the last several years,” the letter read. “We support the proposed modifications to the code of criminal procedure to add civil asset forfeiture to disincentivize future street racing activities.”

As of April 6, the bill passed to engrossment on April 27.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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