CHICAGO — People caught drag racing or drifting in city streets will face tougher consequences under a new ordinance approved Wednesday.
The ordinance, introduced by Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and sponsored by numerous others, gives police the power to impound cars used in such races by using video evidence, even if the owner isn’t present. The measure also increases fines for car owners caught drag racing or drifting.
The City Council approved the measure Wednesday.
“This isn’t about fining people and taking their cars from them, this is about safety.” Reilly said. “Our hope is that with some aggressive enforcement on the front end we can make some high profile examples of folks who are organizing this and doing this on a regular basis.”
Car owners 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 their innocence, 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.
“I think this is an important tool because it changes the evidentiary burden that the police must now make. They’ll be able to take greater action,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
The new law was approved a day after Lightfoot announced a partnership with NASCAR that will bring a street course race to the city. The first races will be July 1-2, 2023.
Lightfoot said Tuesday that bringing in NASCAR has nothing to do with amateur drag racing, calling it an “apples and oranges” comparison.
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