Drag racing penalty moves one step closer, Metro continues to crack down on the crime

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Undercover operations continue on Metro’s ‘street racer’ initiative in Davidson County, as lawmakers move one step closer to increasing penalties for drag racers.

Tuesday, a bill that would increase penalties for drag racing passed the Senate Finance Committee.

Rep. John Gillespie is the house sponsor of the bill that would increase the penalty of the crime. He said not only has he heard dozens of complaints, but he has been impacted by the racers as well.

“Where I live back in Memphis… I can hear drag racing throughout the day and the night, you know the two different engines revving up its very distinguishable,” he said.

It’s an issue Metro Police have been tackling for months with their initiative.

“It’s become a quality of life issue for a lot of citizens in Nashville, Davidson County the drag racing in and of itself the dangers it presents,” said Lt. Michael Gilliland with Metro Police.

While cities have made their own efforts to crack down on the crime, state reps say it’s apparent that a more aggressive approach is needed. 

“Drag racing is already a crime. People are choosing to engage in it regardless of the consequences and one of the best ways we can do to prevent that is to increase the penalties for it,” Rep. Gillespie explained.

The bill would increase drag racing from a Class B to Class A misdemeanor.

“We at the police department are very supportive of the bill, it’s a long time coming,” stated Gilliland. 

Metro police have made significant progress in their efforts, he added, leading to dozens of arrests and more than a half dozen guns confiscated since the initiative began in October. However, he hopes the bill helps send an even louder message that drag racing will not be tolerated.

“There has to be consequences.”

The bill will be in the house finance committee next week. If changed to a class A misdemeanor, drag racing will be punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

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