‘An absolute recipe for disaster’ – Chicago Tribune

A Chicago City Council committee unanimously approved an ordinance aimed at cracking down on drag racing on Monday, on the heels of another video going viral of drivers making donuts at a busy Chicago intersection.

The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee advanced legislation that would allow Chicago police to seize vehicles they believe were involved in drag racing or skidding, even if the owner is not present. The plenary session of the Municipal Council will vote on it on Wednesday.

Before the vote, the main sponsor Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, noted striking images from this weekend that allegedly took place at South Clinton and West Monroe streets in the West Loop, where drivers were turning in circles as large numbers of people surrounded the intersection. He added that sometimes those spectators of drag races light fires in the street with gasoline to “add extra excitement.”

“It’s an absolute recipe for disaster, and it’s only a matter of time before we see people killed in these incidents,” Reilly said. “And it shouldn’t have to come to that.”

A Chicago police spokesman said they could not confirm the Clinton and Monroe car races, but did say that around 4:20 a.m. upper level of a parking garage.

A 17-year-old boy was running to and from a vehicle to throw fireworks at police and an officer was struck, according to the police statement. The teen was arrested about an hour later in the 500 block of West Taylor Street and charged with felony aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

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Drag racing is defined as when at least one driver is “competing in a race against time”, or two or more drivers are racing each other in cars side by side or one behind the other and the drivers prevent each other from passing , according to the city code. Skidding, on the other hand, is when a driver deliberately causes a vehicle to “turn, skid, slide, swerve, or sway” while accelerating or braking, often to make circles or figure eights.

Reilly cited the recent examples in an attempt to show that officers can be outnumbered when responding to drag races and that they would better enforce laws against the practice after the fact. Police should have evidence the vehicle was used for drag racing, but Reilly said that shouldn’t be a problem given the prevalence of people filming the act.

“Often these people are dumb enough to post it in high definition on social media platforms,” ​​Reilly said. “They are actually busting themselves. So let’s take advantage of their wonderful images and use them to take away their cars.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her office worked with Reilly on the ordinance. She noted that drag racing has been a problem for decades, but said the city has “shut down” the drag racing scene along Lower Wacker Drive. She also encouraged city drivers to “slow down.”

“We want people to be able to enjoy the city, but they have to do it safely. We closed, I think effectively; time will tell: the drag races taking place in Lower Wacker because they were obviously creating a significant (risk) to public safety, but also a danger to spectators. One of those cars spins out of control, a whole crowd can be wiped out,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference. “What we want to encourage is people to be smart about how they use their vehicles.”

Michael Howlett of the city’s legislative office said the ordinance would be implemented the same way existing city trailers work. He said if there is “probable cause” that the vehicle was used in violation of drag racing bans, the police department would send a notice to the owner, who can contest the seizure if the car was not in the city at the time of the alleged incident. violation, or if it was stolen or the information on the license does not match the make and model of the vehicle on the police report.

A Chicago police representative also testified in favor of the proposed ordinance.

The legislation does not change existing fees on drag racing and drifting or trailing towing offences. Anyone caught doing either in Chicago is subject to a fine of between $5,000 and $10,000, plus a $500 towing fine.

“It’s happening everywhere,” Ald. Felix Cardona, 31, he said. “On the north side, south side, west side, in the center. It’s just blatant anarchy.”

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