Atlanta City Council sets minimum $1,000 fine for watching street racing

As police grapple with illegal street racing, the Atlanta City Council voted to crack down on spectators as well.

The council voted at its Aug. 3 meeting to amend the city’s code of ordinances to “regulate and set penalties for violations for non-driver participation in street racing and reckless driving exhibitions.”  That means, if you’re caught watching a street race, be prepared to pay a hefty fine.

According to the amendment, spectators will get a minimum fine of $1,000 plus court costs. Imprisonment of up to six months is also a possibility.

While street racing has long been a problem in the city, there has been an uptick in the illegal activity during the pandemic as roadways have seen less traffic. The Atlanta Police Department has been cracking down on racing, including arresting 44 drivers and impounding cars in May.

The council also adopted two resolutions concerning APD’s use of force policies after an ordinance passed in July was vetoed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The mayor said the council’s ordinance was not in compliance with the state’s constitution. Instead, the council adopted a resolution requesting APD explore alternative non-lethal methods of crowd control, such as using stink bombs instead of teargas.

A second resolution was passed requesting that APD adopt the “8 Can’t Wait” principles and pursue amendments to the department’s standard operating procedures related to use of force.

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