CHICAGO — City Council is set to crack down on drag racing and drifting as incidents are being reported across the city.
If passed Wednesday, a proposed ordinance would give Chicago police the power to impound cars that drivers raced or drifted by using videos as evidence, and would increase fines for car owners. The measure comes as two drag racing incidents in the West Loop and South Loop were reported over the weekend.
Under the proposed ordinance introduced by Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), car owners who were suspected of violating the city’s rules would receive a notice to impound from police, a probable cause statement, police report, copy of the municipal code that was violated, description of the car and instructions for contesting the impoundment before the Department of Administrative Hearings.
If the car owner is unable to prove the car wasn’t used in the incident, they’ll face a $2,000 fine or impoundment, according to the proposed ordinance. That penalty would be added to the city’s existing drag racing fines, which range between $5,000 and $10,000, plus a $500 fee for towing.
When asked about how police would collect evidence to pursue impoundments, Reilly said cops will look to social media, The Daily Line reporter Erin Hegarty reported.
“Oftentimes, these people are dumb enough to post it in high definition on social media platforms, so in fact they’re actually busting themselves,” Reilly said.
Community-focused. Reader-funded. Journalist-run.
Support Chicago’s neighborhood news. Support Block Club today.
Early Sunday, police responded to a drag racing incident in 1100 block of South Canal Street in South Loop, arresting a teenager after he threw fireworks at responding officers, police said.
At about 4:23 a.m., police responded to a call of drag racing and fireworks being thrown from a parking garage in the mall complex that includes Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Burlington Coat Factory.
Police said in a preliminary report that a 17-year-old teen was seen “running back and forth from a vehicle to grab fireworks to throw towards officers.” Police said one officer was struck by a firework, but did not say whether the officer suffered injuries.
The teen was arrested in the 500 block of West Taylor Street later that morning and was charged with one felony count of aggravated assault to a police officer, police said.
Videos on YouTube show a large group of people gathered in a circle at the intersection of Monroe and Clinton streets Sunday night.
In the videos, drivers can be seen entering the intersection and doing “donuts,” with cars backed up in at least two directions from the circle. The cars and people leave after approximately a half hour, according to the video.
The videos were obtained from the “Citizen” app, which offers users live updates, as well as crowdsourced videos, regarding crime.
Police could not confirm Sunday whether the incident at Monroe and Clinton was connected to the person arrested after throwing fireworks at police in South Loop.
Crowd Gathered for Street Takeover, Fireworks @CitizenAppS Clinton St & W Monroe St Yesterday 1:53:55 AM CDThttps://citizen.com/static/scripts/embed.js
It marks at least the fourth time people have thrown fireworks at police officers after they responded to large, late-night gatherings in the street that involved drag racing or drivers doing “donuts.” Recent incidents were captured on video in Portage Park and Archer Heights.
A new state law prohibiting “street sideshows,” which will go into effect in 2023, makes it illegal for anyone to block or impede traffic for street racing on state roads, including DuSable Lake Shore Drive and major expressways.
First violation of the law is considered a class A misdemeanor punishable by a minimum $250 fine and up to a year in jail. Street racers could face a fine up to $500 and felony charges for offenses after that.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: