City Hall

If Texas Lawmakers Get Their Way, Cops Could Confiscate Stunt Drivers' Cars

Out of the hundreds of vehicles the Dallas Police Department has impounded for street racing this year, no individual has met all of the criteria necessary to have his vehicle seized.
Out of the hundreds of vehicles the Dallas Police Department has impounded for street racing this year, no individual has met all of the criteria necessary to have his vehicle seized. schlol / Getty Images
A local driver who operates the Instagram account @TSNLSDallas says nothing has changed in the last couple of months despite the Dallas Police Department stepping up its efforts to crack down on stunt drivers who take to city streets, angering cops and City Council members.

“It hasn’t changed at all, man. We’ve been chilling though, staying out the way,” @TSNLSDallas said. “Once a month is cool and enough for us to all enjoy.”

Stunt drivers, like rubber-burning "swingers" and street racers, have been in a game of cat and mouse with local law enforcement for months now, not just in Dallas, but across the state. Now, a bill in the Texas House aims to clamp down on the drivers even harder.

If passed, House Bill 2315 would allow law enforcement in some circumstances to seize and possibly forfeit someone's car. This wouldn't happen for a first-time offender unless they injured someone or were driving while intoxicated. After the first offense, though, stunt drivers risk having to find a new set of wheels. State Reps. John Turner and Morgan Meyer filed the bipartisan bill based on DPD's recommendations and constituent comments.

DPD can already seize people's vehicles, but it never happens. Out of the hundreds of vehicles the Dallas Police Department has impounded for street racing this year, no individual has met all of the criteria necessary to have a vehicle seized.

This wouldn't be a problem under the new bills.

Although it’s unlike the drivers to bow down to the law and give up without a fight, @TSNLSDallas said, "We’d probably stop just because we don’t want anyone to get into any trouble."

TSNLSDallas became one of the main organizers of street takeover events throughout the course of the pandemic. They’ve bragged before about how efficient they’ve gotten at outrunning and outsmarting the cops.

“We know how to move. We are always a step ahead," @TSNLSDallas said. "Why do you think we last 30 minutes plus at each intersection?”

They said they had plans to become a legal operation, but they didn’t mind the legal troubles they may face along the way. That would change under this bill.

If the bill passes, the risks of hosting these events outweigh the benefits, and that has left @TSNLSDallas wondering if their chase with the law could be coming to an end. It's time they became a legal operation, but they're not exactly sure where to start or how they'd pull it off without significant help from others. "We are young," they said, explaining that some drivers are still in school. "We need a lot of money.

“It sucks cause we bring everyone together to have fun, doesn’t matter race, gender or age. We are better off doing what we do than being in the streets killing, robbing or being in a gang,” @TSNLSDallas said.

"We get a lot of hate, but if you come to a sideshow and see the smiles and cheers from people just enjoying cars doing donuts you’d be surprised," they added. "We have people who come to us as a getaway from their at-home, family or work problems. We create bonds, and it sucks cause now who knows what these young people will be doing after we are gone?"

Some residents, the city, DPD and lawmakers don't see it that way.

People have died in Dallas as a result of illegal stunt driving, said Turner. "I really think in this case, the forfeiture of the vehicle is a fitting remedy and a fitting disincentive for this particular, very dangerous, hazardous activity," he said. "It's just not something we can really tolerate. We need to do something about it."

DPD Assistant Chief Jesse Reyes and City Attorney Chris Caso testified in Austin as to the dangers of illegal street racing and the need for more tools to deter it.

The North Dallas Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2315. In an email to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, the chamber said they’ve worked with Meyer and Turner on the legislation.

“Dallas and Texans across the state have seen a significant increase in illegal and dangerous street racing in the last several years,” the group said. “We support the proposed modifications to the Code of Criminal Procedure to add civil asset forfeiture to disincentivize future street racing activities.”

City Council member Cara Mendelsohn said one of the legislative priorities for the council this session is to expand enforcement tools available to DPD. The bill made it through committee and is now set for a full House vote.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn