By Pat Warren

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland tragedy brought state police to Annapolis to ask for jail time for people caught in illegal street races.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports the proposal has gained momentum.

A street race in Prince George’s County in 2008 resembled a massacre. Survivors gave a gruesome account of the dead and the injured.

“People were getting hit with body parts.  People’s body parts was breaking other people’s body parts,” said one witness.

“People screaming…it was chaos,” said another.

In 2009 in Baltimore County, a street race ended with two killed and one other person left permanently disabled.  Families were shocked to learn that in each event, there’s no penalty for injuring a person, other than traffic charges.

“Currently, if someone is involved in a race with a serious injury, all we can write them is a $290 ticket that they can pay and never have to appear in court,” said Lt. Tom Woodard.

Maryland State Police asked the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to put more teeth in the law, to allow them to charge a participant if someone is seriously injured in a race and to provide fines and jail times.

Baltimore City Delegate Keiffer Mitchell says races are happening in his district.

“Late night races, parents worried about their kids and loved ones involved in these races,” Mitchell said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill Wednesday.

While law enforcement and AAA support this bill, some members of the Judiciary Committee do not.  It failed to pass this committee last year.

The law does allow manslaughter charges in cases where people are killed.

Comments (5)
  1. JP says:

    It is time for there to be laws (nationwide) that deal meaningfully with street racing. Too many young people seem to think it’s an acceptable outlet and a cool activity, knowing that the current penalties are inadequate for the level of potential disasters that can occur. Racing is almost always preceeded by idle talk, desire to impress peers, submerged anger, temporary disregard for others and in many cases alcohol consumption. Let’s add to the fact that many television shows, movies AND automobile commercials regularly show us elaborate depictions of chases/ races/ recklessness and stunt driving which only helps to perpetuate the idea that street racing is somehow OK. Given the current rise in “road rage” incidents and a declining respect for other motorists, we have now created an nearly “perfect” climate to encourage this kind of mindless behaviour. Yes, street racing had it’s beginnings out West in Ca., on straight isolated roads that were lightly travelled 30-40 years ago. Yes, America loves it’s beautiful hot-rods and hi-tech tuners. Yes, we have all enjoyed the sense of freedom that comes from a leisurely drive through the countryside on a beautiful day. YES, we acknowledge that driving in the U.S. is an automatic liberty that is so deeply ingrained in our culture. But we have neglected to teach our children that sensible, unemotional, businesslike operation of a motorized vehicle produces a safe and mature mindset that usually lasts for a lifetime.
    Let’s get away from the irresponsible ideas that prevade our society when it comes to driving a car or a motorbike. We owe a debt of gratitude to MD State Police for approaching the state legislature and asking for what we, as a society, don’t seem to have the collective resolve and sensiblity to demand.
    Peace, out.

  2. Willie man hanging says:

    Clamp down on street racing & you will curtail several illegal activities.
    1-Stolen cars contribute to street racing & it’s drivers.
    2-Drug & alcohol bust there on the scene
    3- Heavy fines first time offenders & they pay the fine not the parents or do supervised community work to be designated by a jury.
    4- Jail time 2nd offense & revocation of drivers license

  3. B Fair says:

    I agree that the punishment is definitely a bit light for street racing and it’s related incidents, but the idiot who ran over those people wasn’t even racing…He was driving up the road with no headlights and ran over the poor souls who were dumb enough to be standing in the street watching those who actually were street racing…

  4. Perfectly Imperfect says:

    I think there should be harsher penalties for those who cause harm to others by doing this. I mean, street racing has been “the thing to do” for decades, but in this day in age, there are plenty of race tracks that are accessible to people who want to do this. I lived right around the corner from where that deadly accident happened in 2008 in PG County… and the car who ran into and killed all of those people, was not involved in that race, but happened to come through that area speeding…while the race was going on. Street races draw big crowds, usually, and everyone is in danger even if you’re just standing around to spectate. I also think that those individuals need to be charged as an accessory if they decide on their own free will to attend these illegal races.

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