Kansas City Council passes stronger penalties for anyone involved in illegal street racing

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Council passed an ordinance to crack down on street racing. The new law increased penalties for anyone involved in the illegal activity.

Drivers caught the first time face fines up to $150 plus up to 30 days in jail. Penalties double for drivers ticketed a second time. If a driver is caught a third time, they will be fined up to $500 and could spend six months behind bars.

People watching the dangerous races can also face fines. Anyone in the crowd can be ticketed and forced to pay up to a $100 fine.

“This ordinance makes it clear: Our priority is keeping people—participants, spectators and passersby—safe and illegal street racing activities will be met with tougher legal consequences,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “We continue exploring ways to create safer, legal options for events where people can show off their cars without jeopardizing the safety of others.”

The new city law also gives police officers more power over the vehicles used in the races. If officers have enough proof a car was involved in a sideshow, it could be impounded.

But impounding vehicles isn’t a blanket policy.

“For example, something that came up in committee, those who are minors and may be using their parent’s vehicles don’t actually face some level of impoundment – but while also making sure that we have some penalties along the way,” Lucas said.

Councilman Brandon Ellington voted no on the change. He said he has concerns that the law will be abused, specifically when alleged spectators are ticketed.

“Engaging anybody that’s in that area underneath the net of suspicion and then codifying that in the law is extremely dangerous,” Ellington said.

“So that’s why I voted against it. I feel there’s some due process concerns. Sideshows are definitely an issue in Kansas City. Do not get me wrong. But you do not take away rights or increase the possibility of people being victimized that haven’t committed any illegal act.”

In the past, video surfaced showing street races in downtown Kansas City. The races have closed intersections, caused damage to streets, and disrupted nearby neighborhoods.

Police say some of the illegal races end in fights and shootings.

Sideshows came to the front of public scrutiny last summer in Kansas City when a 19-year-old woman was shot and killed while attending an unsanctioned sideshow in September.

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