The Dallas City Council wants much tougher penalties for those caught participating in street races in the city. Dallas city staff, and its police department, appear ready to oblige.
Monday afternoon at City Hall, Dallas Police Department and city staff filled in the council's public safety committee on just what a new city ordinance targeting street racing could look like, were the council to sign off on recommendations from DPD and the city attorney's office.
While its details are still being fleshed out, the proposed ordinance would make it illegal to attend a street racing event or be a passenger in a car participating in a race and would allow for cars used in street racing to be impounded or seized by the city through a forfeiture process.
DPD also plans to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to address fraudulent inspections and modifications that make cars not street legal.
The idea is to stop the mass gatherings of car enthusiasts and racers that dot the city on a given weekend, monopolizing police resources and annoying residents.
"I've got neighbors, and I've got a lot of seniors who live in my district, and they're calling me because they can't sleep because these souped-up cars with these mufflers are just disturbing the peace," council member Casey Thomas said. "If having an audience is something that's encouraging (the racers) and we can do something here about it, let's do it. ... I'm 150% behind this."
The council members at Monday's meeting were universally supportive of doing something, anything, to cut down on racing, but some did worry about those who might be caught up in the dragnet of the new ordinance.
"We can have an ordinance all day long, but how exactly would it be enforced?" council member Jaime Resendez asked. "I'd hate to be at a stoplight myself and then these young folks start acting a fool and then I get arrested."
Police would show discretion when enforcing the potential ordinance, said DPD Assistant Chief Lonzo Anderson.
Under Dallas ordinances, committee chair Adam McGough said, it is too easy for racers to dart across city lines when police show up, avoiding enforcement. Adding potential vehicle seizure to the mix, he said, might actually make a dent in Dallas' racing problem.
"It feels like the best thing we can do is have a really strong ordinance that can seize some of these vehicles that we can get the license plate, that we can identify the vehicle and that we know what's happening," McGough said.