State representatives taking street racing penalties up a notch

Reporter: Haley Zarcone
Published: Updated:

Florida roadways are no stranger to speeding drivers and revving engines. Illegal street takeovers and street racing have caught the attention of Florida State Representatives behind House Bill 449.

House Rep. Kyian Michael and Rep. Douglas Bankson first filed the “Motor Vehicle Racing Penalties” bill in November of 2023. As of March 29, this bill was on its second read in the Florida Senate.

According to the Florida Senate, the bill aims to raise fines and penalties for those a part of these dangerous vehicle crimes.

The state senate website describes the bill as, “Motor Vehicle Racing Penalties; Increases fine for specified offenses; increases criminal penalty & revising applicability of criminal penalty for second offenses of specified violations occurring within specified time period; provides penalties for impeding, obstructing, or interfering with an emergency vehicle while participating in drag race, street takeover, stunt driving, competition, contest, test, or exhibition; increases penalty for third or subsequent offenses of specified violations occurring within specified time period; increases fine for such violations; increases fine for acting as spectator at specified violations.”

Residential roads see speeding in SWFL

Parker Perry is a car enthusiast first but a neighbor second. He said his street in San Carlos Park sees lots of fast drivers speed by his home often.

“People are kind of getting off work, and they’re just driving home. I know that people drive fast, but I would say it’s mostly when people get off of work,” Perry said.

He knows fast cars because he has a fast car. One of the few cars sitting in his driveway is a Mark 4 Supra, originally from Japan.

He knows having a fast car means being responsible on the roadways.

“If you do stuff on the street like there’s a time in place, and the track is the time in place, if you’re going to do it on the street, you might as well be ready to face the consequences,” he said.

Hearing about House Bill 499, he’s supportive of it. He knows it will keep the roadways safer because he’s seen how dangerous illegal street takeovers can get.

Perry, like many others, remembers the illegal street takeover that claimed two lives in Lehigh Acres last March.

Raising awareness nationwide for reckless driving

The nonprofit organization Street Racing Kills was started in 2013. The founder, Lili Trujillo Puckett, started the organization after losing her daughter, Valentina, to a street racing crash.

“I didn’t want any parent to lose a child. That was like my first goal. The pain was different. What I was feeling was different than any other pain I’ve ever felt, and I knew that it was 100% preventable,” said Puckett.

Today, she educates drivers, parents, and communities nationwide about the consequences of reckless driving and how to be a more responsible driver. Her passion for others makes preventing tragic crashes like this possible.

“We’re going to go to the schools. We are very excited that we’re going to school, which is where we’re going to be talking about all the dangers, the consequences, how to save lives, give the students and young drivers these tools where they can start driving and not engage into this behavior. I do believe in mentoring our future drivers. It is so important,” Puckett said.

She said illegal street takeovers and street racing is a trend she sees nationwide. Based out of California, she’s happy to see representatives from the state of Florida working towards a safer tomorrow for people on our roadways.

More than improving conditions, Puckett said seeing this bill pass would bring justice to the lives lost from these dangerous accidents.

“I am sure that as they hear this new bill and other bills that they have been Florida, they [will] feel a little bit of peace in their heart because they know there’s something being done about it,” she said.

If this bill is passed, it will go into effect on July 1st. For more information on this bill or to track its progress, you can visit the Florida Senate’s website.

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