Drivers blocking roads to do donuts and burnouts?  New NC law to ban ‘street takeovers’

Drivers blocking roads to do donuts and burnouts? New NC law to ban ‘street takeovers’

A proposed pending law on the governor’s desk will give North Carolina police a new tool to deter drivers who illegally race and perform car and motorcycle stunts on public streets.

The legislation, Senate Bill 91, makes it illegal to organize or participate in a street takeover. “Street takeover” is defined in the legislation as any organized event that uses motor vehicles to block a public street, road or highway for the performance of a motor vehicle stunt, contest or exhibition.

Videos of street takeovers show crowds of people standing on the streets while cars drive among them and perform stunts like drifts, burnouts and donuts.

Police in Port St.  Lucie, Florida, said this Chevrolet Camaro crashed after fleeing from officers during “street takeover”  in March, and the driver was a 15-year-old boy.  North Carolina has seen similar street takeover events, where large groups of people block public streets and drivers perform stunts with there cars.  The North Carolina legislature is passing a law to help police deter these activities.

Police in Port St. Lucie, Florida, said this Chevrolet Camaro crashed after fleeing from officers during “street takeover” in March, and the driver was a 15-year-old boy. North Carolina has seen similar street takeover events, where large groups of people block public streets and drivers perform stunts with there cars. The North Carolina legislature is passing a law to help police deter these activities.

Drivers take over the streets of Charlotte

The legislation follows reports of street takeovers in Charlotte and the difficulties the police have had to put a stop to them.

Street takeovers have blocked Charlotte streets and Interstate 77, Democratic state Rep. Carolyn G. Logan of Mecklenburg County said June 28 when asking for members of the House to vote for the bill. Takeovers have happened around the state, she said.

Those who violate the new street takeover law can face misdemeanor and felony charges, $1,000 fines, and up to 25 months in prison. And their vehicles could be seized, the legislation says.

Violators can include people who are present but not driving, provided they take actions “in furtherance of, or [to] facilitate a street takeover,” the legislation says. However, “Mere presence alone without an intentional act is not sufficient to sustain a conviction,” it says.

Street takeover participants plan and announce street takeovers ahead of time, generally on social media, said Officer James McLeod of the Fayetteville Police Department’s Traffic Unit. The events attracted drivers who wanted to show off, he said, and they drew numerous spectators who took photos and videos of racing and stunts.

The stunts may include drivers doing burnouts (making the drive wheels spin so fast that they start smoking), drifting (making the car do a controlled, sideways skid through a turn), and donuts (making the car rotate while the drive wheels spin so they smoke fast and leave skid marks). The stunts may also include motorcyclists doing wheelies or other tricks.

“I call it chasing clowns,” McLeod said. “They want to film it, want to put it on social media. They want to be the biggest, the baddest, the fastest.”

At the same time, carmakers are producing faster and more powerful vehicles for everyday drivers, said McLeod, who owns a 1958 Studebaker and can tell you without looking up that the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye has nearly 800 horsepower.

Run and you’re done: Fayetteville police tackle reckless driving by seizing the cars of drivers who flee

“You can buy it from the dealership and drive it down the road,” McLeod said. “Which is great. It’s awesome. We want people to enjoy their vehicles.” But at the same time, the drivers need to be responsible, he said.

There was no need for anyone to risk having their cars seized, McLeod said, when there are racetracks in and around Fayetteville that welcome drivers who want to race and do stunts in a safe place.

An image from sheriff helicopter video made in March in Port St.  Lucie, Florida, shows an incident described as part of a “street takeover.”  The car in the center is depicted doing donuts or burnouts.  North Carolina lawmakers are passing a law to deter similar activities in their state.

An image from sheriff helicopter video made in March in Port St. Lucie, Florida, shows an incident described as part of a “street takeover.” The car in the center is depicted doing donuts or burnouts. North Carolina lawmakers are passing a law to deter similar activities in their state.

Fayetteville police have stopped takeovers so far

While Fayetteville has had drivers racing and doing stunts on the streets, the Fayetteville Police Department has strived to be ahead of the street takeover trend and so far has prevented them before they started, McLeod said.

People attempted a street takeover here last year, he said. When the department learned it was being organized, he said, it sent extra traffic enforcement officers to patrol the vicinity in what is called “saturation enforcement.” No streets were blocked, he said.

Instead, drivers and spectators in Fayetteville sometimes at night take over the parking lots of businesses that are closed and do their stunts there, McLeod said. People have occasionally gotten hit by cars and hurt, he said, but he said there were no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

The coating of tire rubber left on the parking lots from the drifting, donuts and burnouts damages and covers the parking lot markings, McLeod said. It can be costly for businesses to repair, he said.

The street takeover law does not address takeovers of private property.

However, McLeod said, parts of the law will help police officers and prosecutors with cases against those accused of driving dangerously.

For the first time, McLeod said, there will be a legal definition in the context of driving for a burnout, a wheelie, a donut and drifting. It would be easier to explain these to a jury during a trial for someone accused of careless-and-reckless driving, he said.

Senior North Carolina reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and [email protected].

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: New NC law to punish participants of stunt driving street takeovers

Similar Posts