Brookhaven becomes 2nd DeKalb city to pass anti-street racing law

A large crowd gathers to watch cars do burnouts in Atlanta. Authorities are looking for ways to crack down on the recent spike in illegal street racing across the city. (Photo courtesy of Ben Hendren)

Credit: Courtesy of Ben Hendren

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A large crowd gathers to watch cars do burnouts in Atlanta. Authorities are looking for ways to crack down on the recent spike in illegal street racing across the city. (Photo courtesy of Ben Hendren)

Credit: Courtesy of Ben Hendren

A day after Doraville passed a law to punish street racers and spectators, Brookhaven followed suit.

Brookhaven’s city leaders passed an ordinance Tuesday night that imposes a fine between $500 and $1,000 for violators, who could also receive up to six months in jail. In addition, vehicles used in a street race can be impounded for 30 days or until the case is settled.

“The ordinance expands the police department’s authority to detain those folks who seem to be actively supporting the activity," City Attorney Chris Balch said. "The ordinance does not address or make criminal simply watching, but if you are an active participant in some manner, as observed by a police officer, you can be cited and/or arrested.”

The legislation mirrors laws by Doraville and Atlanta, both of whom are ramping up efforts to crack down on these large illegal racing events, which shut down roads, annoy residents and can endanger those involved. Police departments in metro Atlanta have reported an uptick in groups laying drag since the summer when the coronavirus pandemic left streets emptier than usual.

Brookhaven’s ordinance does not deviate much from Atlanta’s law, but it differs with Doraville when it comes to impounding vehicles.

Atlanta’s initial ordinance in August allowed police to impound vehicles, but that clause was later amended to limit impounding vehicles to 30 days or until adjudication to match state law. Doraville’s city leaders did not include impounding vehicles in its law, which passed Monday night.

ExploreDoraville passes law to punish street racing organizers, participants

Brookhaven cited a portion of Georgia law that allows police to confiscate cars whose drivers have been arrested and must appear before a magistrate judge as legal justification. Police Chief Gary Yandura said impounding vehicles will be the heftiest deterrent.

“It’s getting dangerous, and it’s getting out of hand, and I think the main thing that hurts them (in our ordinance) is that your car gets impounded for 30 days or until adjudication in court," he said Tuesday night.

He said street racing has been an issue in Executive Park and Corporate Square and has led to multiple loitering arrests. The new ordinance will give police more tools to punish those involved in the dangerous activity, which recently killed three people in Fort Worth, Texas, Yandura added.

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