Proposed city ordinance would allow police to impound cars involved in stunt driving meetups

CHICAGO (CBS) — Drivers stop traffic as they spin and donut, in a dangerous thrill that seems to grow every weekend in Chicago.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, it’s a problem that leaves a mess behind. So many concentric rings of tire tracks now mar the intersection of Clinton and Monroe streets in the West Loop after car enthusiasts used the middle of that intersection to spin last weekend.

Now, a proposed city ordinance could provide a tool for police to fight such activities. Alderman will present his newest plan on Tuesday.

Dangerous driving and tire tracks are not just a problem. Sometimes participants in stunt driving events light a ring of fire in the street that people stand on. Meanwhile, armed fireworks have sometimes been directed at responding police officers.

Scenes captured in cellphone video posted to the Citizen app last weekend show street joggers and stuntmen taking over intersections in the West Loop and South Loop.

Neither driver was charged or arrested. But Chicago police, responding to a drag race call on South Canal Street, arrested a 17-year-old who was seen throwing fireworks at them.

The teen has been charged with felony aggravated assault on a police officer.

All of this has happened before, all over the city, and it’s becoming a real problem. It’s also an issue that council members want to give Chicago Police a new way to attack.

A proposed ordinance has just been approved by the city council’s Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee. If approved by the full City Council, it would allow Chicago police to seize cars involved in such activities, whether the owner is there or not.

“When I introduced this ordinance, I did so at the request of our local police commanders,” Ald said. Brendan Reilly (42nd), sponsor of the ordinance.

Reilly addressed the committee on Monday, addressing the weekend’s problems. He described what the city calls drag and drift racing as “figure skating with a car.”

Reilly said something has to be done here before someone dies.

“I think when people start seeing their seized vehicles, they will realize that this activity has real consequences,” he said, “and again, it puts our communities at risk.”


Alderman proposes an ordinance to end car stunt meetings

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But it’s not as simple as seizing a car involved in a stunt meet and identified on video or tracked by police.

According to the ordinance:

• Before impounding a car, the police must mail the owner of the car a “notice of intent to impound.”

• The notice would include a statement of probable cause, police report, description of the vehicle, and the date and time of the violation.

• The owner of the car would have the right to contest the seizure.

Molina reached out to Chicago police with questions about what they are doing now to crack down on this crime. Once again, the drivers this weekend were never arrested or charged.

There was no answer to those questions on Monday.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s office said Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked about the stunt driving meetings and the proposed ordinance at an unrelated news conference Monday. Specifically, the mayor was asked about concerns that the ordinance might not have enough teeth to be an effective deterrent.

The mayor replied:

“We worked a lot with Councilman Reilly, who is the lead sponsor of that ordinance, to make sure we had one that complied with city law, and we really gave the Police Department a chance to be successful in shutting these things down. As you know, unfortunately drag racing and drifting have been a thing in our town for decades. I live not far from Fullerton Avenue, and it’s a problem in Fullerton from time to time. We’re regularly seeing these car clubs. that mass of 50, 100 to drive through a city.

“We want people to be able to enjoy the city, but they have to do it in a safe way. We shut down, I think effectively, but time will tell, the drag races that were going on in Lower Wacker,” because that was obviously creating significant public safety, but also a danger to spectators. If one of those cars goes out of control, the entire crowd could be wiped out. So what we want to encourage is people to be smart about how “we’re using vehicles.”

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