Georgia’s state legislature passed a new street racing bill in April 2021. Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill into law the following month. As written, the new law could sharply restrict car enthusiasts who want to drag race or even do doughnuts in parking lots.
Feelings of constituents range from frustration at the noise and danger to concern that certain demographic groups could be targeted by this law.
Georgia’s new law
While police in cities and communities all over Georgia have arrested people and charged them with street racing, car enthusiasts continued their activities.
Before being signed into law, the bill had bipartisan support.
This law was written in an effort to increase the penalties that street racers could face. This includes license suspensions which could last for one year; street racers who have been arrested might also face $5,000 fines. And repeat offenders could face felony charges, which could see them spending time behind bars.
Residents who take part in the car scene in Atlanta, and civil rights advocates have raised concerns that this new law may pull car enthusiasts into a revolving door of charges, court hearings and prison time.
Devin Barrington-Ward, who has allied himself with the auto enthusiast group in Atlanta, says that street racing can be dangerous. He also says that groups meet in parking lots to show off their cars. He is also concerned that the law and efforts by the police could single out people of color.
Working with car enthusiasts to create safer events
Marissa Dodson, who is the public policy director for the Southern Center for Human Rights, along with Barrington-Ward, want to see lawmakers work alongside auto enthusiasts. They have also pointed out how police departments in other states have jointly hosted events with car enthusiasts racing against police officers.
Law enforcement doesn’t always get it right and you could find yourself unjustly facing traffic-related charges. If this is the case, be sure to explore your legal options.