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New bill would help law enforcement targeting illegal street racing

Street racing bill would give officers more power to arrest
Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 18:51:56-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida legislators are cracking down on illegal street racing with proposed legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

The new state legislation cites a Bayshore Boulevard fatal accident that happened about a year ago where a mother and her child lost their lives-- an accident that has been connected to illegal street racing.

"Hearing about the baby and the lady dying, it kind of took effect on me. I don't really bring my kids out here that much anymore,” said mom Rowenika Robinson.

There may be more police patrols, new crosswalk beacons, but the fear is still fresh on Bayshore Boulevard.

"My son and I, when I run him with a stroller, we stay on that side,” another mom told ABC Action News.

"Street racing is the top notch now with young kids racing. Whose car is faster than who? Whose bike is faster than what? I feel like they need to just stop,” said Robinson.

Now new state legislation is taking aim at the problem.

Right now, law enforcement is required to witness the crime to pursue an arrest.

Legislation sitting on the Governor's desk would allow probable cause to put someone in handcuffs.

"The biggest challenge that we have is when we get a call that there's some street racing going on or somebody suspects that there's street racing going on, by the time you hang up the phone, they may be completely done with it so it's difficult to make an arrest because it disperses,” said Tampa Police spokesperson Steve Hegarty.

State legislators say using witness accounts, video and other evidence would give officers more power to crack down on a crime that's clearly had a negative impact on Tampa Bay.