4 arrested, more than 160 cited after weekend street racing crackdown in Atlanta

Four people were arrested during a street-racing crackdown this past weekend, Atlanta police said.

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Four people were arrested during a street-racing crackdown this past weekend, Atlanta police said.

Despite continuing efforts from local leaders and police to confront an uptick in street racing in Atlanta, the dangerous events continue to pop up around the city.

Just this past weekend, four people were arrested and 168 others were cited during another crackdown.

Aaron Thomas, Lynett Washington, Jonathan Rivera and Hugo Enrique Vargas-Torres were all taken into custody on drag racing-related charges between Friday and Monday, Atlanta police spokeswoman Officer TaSheena Brown confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The agency said it conducted 135 traffic stops and impounded nine cars that were used in drag racing incidents over the three-day period. The incidents happened on local streets and major highways, Brown said.

“(The Atlanta Police Department) is aggressively monitoring and pursuing those who engage in street racing,” the department said. “We’ll employ our resources to cite and/or arrest those involved in this illegal, dangerous, & disruptive activity.”

The recent arrests come as city leaders try to tamp down the number of street racing events in Atlanta and punish offenders.

The events, which are usually organized on social media, have grown in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, countless videos have been posted showing vehicles stopping traffic, including on local interstates, and doing doughnuts while hundreds of spectators look on.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Street racers continue to wreak havoc on metro roadways

In one such video that circulated on Instagram over the weekend, the Downtown Connector appears to be blocked by a driver laying drag. In the video, posted on Instagram, a red pickup truck appears to be doing doughnuts in the middle of the highway as spectators take photos. The video then shows a long line of headlights as other southbound drivers are forced to stop and wait.

“It’s a hazard, it’s a dangerous activity and they had no right to close the freeway,” Atlanta police Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor told Channel 2 Action News.

Police officers were on patrol in the area, but the street racers left before investigators could speak to anyone at the scene, the news station reported.

“Once we arrived, and they saw our blue lights, everybody took off. If we were able to identity the offenders, they would be charged appropriately,” O’Connor said.

The agency has since opened an investigation into the incident, officials confirmed to the AJC.

In response to residents’ concerns about illegal street racing, the city has taken steps in recent months to increase penalties for those involved. In August, the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance that sets penalties for those who attend street racing events, even if they aren’t driving in them. Offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

In early November, the city council passed a new law stating anyone arrested on charges related to street racing will no longer be able to immediately bond out of jail.

The ordinance, which passed by a vote of 10-3, requires anyone arrested in connection with street racing to stay in jail until they go before a judge, usually within 24 to 48 hours of arrest. The judge will then determine a bond amount and any special restrictions before a suspect can be released. Previously, offenders were allowed to immediately bond out of jail after arrest.