Georgia governor wants to put a stop to street racing

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday threw his support behind House Bill 534, which would allow authorities to suspend the licenses of some street racers for up to a year and calls for penalties as high as $5,000. “In Georgia,” Kemp said, “we will not tolerate this reckless, illegal behavior.” (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/TNS)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday threw his support behind House Bill 534, which would allow authorities to suspend the licenses of some street racers for up to a year and calls for penalties as high as $5,000. “In Georgia,” Kemp said, “we will not tolerate this reckless, illegal behavior.” (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Gov. Brian Kemp wants to put the brakes on illegal street racing.

The governor backed a measure Friday that paves the way for new penalties for anyone who organizes, promotes or participates in street racing, a troubling trend that has driven a surge of complaints in Atlanta since the start of the pandemic.

At a press conference at the Capitol, the governor said he has “watched in horror” as street racing proliferates in Atlanta. Flanked by local sheriffs, Kemp said he couldn’t stand by as “our streets, highways and parking lots have become a free-for-all speedway for criminals.”

Notably absent from the press conference was Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose administration has taken its own steps to crack down on street racing.

In recent months, countless videos have been posted online showing vehicles stopping traffic, blazing down city streets and interstates, and pulling off tricky maneuvers, sometimes while hundreds of spectators watch.

Atlanta lawmakers have faced immense pressure to crack down on the illegal races, and the city has taken steps to increase penalties for violators.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced  his support for legislation that would increase penalties in connection with street racing.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced his support for legislation that would increase penalties in connection with street racing.

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.

And in November, the city adopted a new law that 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. Previously, offenders were allowed to immediately bond out of jail after arrest.

The Republican governor, who has battled with Bottoms over a range of issues, said more needed to be done.

The measure, House Bill 534, would allow authorities to suspend the licenses of some violators for up to a year and calls for penalties as high as $5,000. Repeat offenders could face additional prison time under the proposal and lose their cars. It creates crimes for promoting drag racing and reckless stunt driving.

“In Georgia,” Kemp said, “we will not tolerate this reckless, illegal behavior.”

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