Florida police attempting to crack down on dumb, harmful driving and scary-stupid avenue takeovers might quickly have extra punitive instruments at their disposal by way of laws the Senate simply handed unanimously.

The invoice (SB 1764) would replace legal guidelines the Legislature established in 2022 enabling cops handy out fines and make arrests primarily based on video proof of stunt driving and drag racing. It will increase the fantastic for coordinating or collaborating in these and avenue takeover occasions to as much as $2,000 for a primary offense and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

Subsequent offenses would carry harsher penalties. Individuals who merely watch the occasion in particular person would face a $500 fantastic, up from $65 now.

The measure additionally makes it a third-degree felony, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail and $4,000 in fines for an individual concerned in a avenue takeover to knowingly impede or intrude with the motion of an emergency automobile. A second such offense might land somebody in jail for 15 years.

Hollywood Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, the invoice’s sponsor, stated deadly avenue shenanigans are nonetheless a big problem throughout Florida regardless of laws he passed in 2022 to curb the generally fatal activity disproportionately well-liked amongst younger folks.

“They use social media, and they’re creating an extremely harmful setting,” he stated earlier than the vote Friday. “Ambulances, fireplace and police can’t get to the middle of the intersection, (and) these networks … will possible end result within the harm or loss of life of your youngster or your grandchild sooner or later.”

Requested what number of lives he expects the invoice to avoid wasting, Pizzo didn’t supply an estimate.

“Candidly, it might very nicely save the lives of a number of the children that come over for pizza (with my children) at my home,” he stated. “That’s sufficient for me.”

Beneath the invoice, folks discovered responsible of coordinating or collaborating in stunt driving, drag racing or avenue takeover occasions would face a third-degree felony and a two-year driver’s license suspension for a second offense inside a 12 months of the primary.

Those that don’t be taught their lesson the primary two occasions would face a second-degree felony, which carries an as much as 15-year punishment, $7,500 in fines and a four-year license revocation.

The invoice additionally gives a definition in state statutes for a “coordinated avenue takeover” to imply 10 or extra autos operated in an organized method to impact a avenue takeover. Pizzo stated there are sometimes a whole lot of autos concerned in these occasions.

Police, particularly in South Florida, responded to a flood of avenue takeovers final 12 months of which footage unfold virally on social media. Between 2018 and 2022, regulation enforcement officers issued 6,641 citations for avenue racing and stunt driving, in keeping with the Division of Freeway Security and Motor Automobiles.

Almost 28% of them had been in Miami-Dade. The median age of offenders was 21.

West Palm Seashore Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell stated he noticed a avenue takeover firsthand whereas driving to church one morning.

“It was a scary feeling for me, as a result of I didn’t wish to be caught up in any of that,” he stated. “I’m hopeful that this laws … will forestall a few of these tragic accidents from occurring, but in addition forestall folks from taking these kinds of dangers.”

Zephyrhills Republican Sen. Danny Burgess expressed related sentiments.

“As a father of youngsters that will likely be driving sometime quickly,” he stated, “I do know that I’ll be pleased about this down the highway — no pun meant.”

SB 1764 will now be despatched to the Home, the place related laws (HB 1363) by Apopka Republican Rep. Doug Bankson and Jacksonville Republican Rep. Kiyan Michael awaits a flooring vote. The lawmakers briefly postponed a vote on their invoice Friday, possible in order that the measure might be taken up alongside its Senate model for a single — and ultimate — vote.

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