A new bill in Georgia proposes license suspensions and hefty fines for “reckless stunt driving,” but critics fear that it is just another excuse for the state to prey on Black and Latino men.
During the worst phases of the pandemic, few opportunities for recreation remained except to go for a drive, and the roads and parking lots were emptier than normal, making it apparently less dangerous than usual to drive at excessive speeds on the highway or do donuts in front of a shuttered movie theater. For decades, pop culture has celebrated the pleasures of going nowhere fast in a motor vehicle, from Bruce Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” (probably known better by Emmylou Harris’s cover version here in Georgia) to the Fast and the Furious movie series. A new law endeavors to put a stop to street racing in Georgia. If you are facing legal trouble for what amounts to little more than harmless fun with a thing that goes vroom, contact an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer.
House Bill 534 Imposes Heavier Penalties for Street Racing
Last month, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a new piece of legislation, House Bill 534, which criminalizes street racing and other behaviors that it terms “reckless stunt driving.” The definition of reckless stunt driving includes driving at dangerously high speeds in competition with other drivers on highways and urbans or rural roads, as well as performing driving stunts before an audience at parking lots, parking decks, and intersections.
According to House Bill 534, the penalties for first offense reckless stunt driving include fines and driver’s license suspensions. The details depend on the level of recklessness, but the fines can go as high as $5,000 and the license suspension can last for up to a year. For repeat offenses, a conviction or guilty plea can result in criminal penalties including probation and jail time.
More Injustice Masquerading as a Safety Measure?
House Bill 534 has enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican legislators alike, but some critics see it as just another way to punish people of color simply for existing. Georgia is home to numerous self-styled car enthusiasts, including Devin Barrington-Ward, a founder of the Black Futurists Group. Barrington-Ward and others fear that police will selectively apply the new law to Black and Latino men in Atlanta and other urban areas in Georgia, with white men free to perform driving stunts without fear of legal consequences. It is not hard to find evidence of other laws being applied this way, such as drug possession laws. In a society where, even before the pandemic, an unexpected expense of several hundred dollars or a temporary lack of transportation to work meant financial catastrophe, the penalties imposed by House Bill 534 could cause enormous strain on working people and their families.
Contact Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers About Reckless Stunt Driving Cases
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing charges for the driving offenses newly criminalized under House Bill 534. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about reckless stunt driving defense cases.