6/30/2006California: Watch a Street Race, Go to Jail
Elk Grove, California imposes big fines and car confiscation on those accused of street racing and merely being close to one.
Another California city is joining Oakland in making it a crime to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Elk Grove City Council, looking to cash in on the street racing craze, voted Wednesday to impose stiff fines and jail time not just on those who participate in an event, but anyone who happens to be near one. The council adopted an ordinance that allows the city to confiscate the vehicles accused of being used in an "exhibition of speed" for sixty days, collect $1500 from the driver and send anyone within a 200 foot radius to jail for six months and fine them $1000.
The council is reviewing the legality of an extra provision that would seize vehicles belonging to spectators accused of a second "spectator" offense. If such a measure is deemed illegal, council members suggested petitioning the legislature to change state law to allow it. For each vehicle seizure, the city would collect substantial fees or auction off automobiles belonging to those who cannot afford to pay the fines.
The measures were taken up under "urgent" rules designed to minimize the time available for public comment and scrutiny before adoption.