NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Despite lawmakers increasing the penalties for street racing in 2021, drivers continue to compete at top speeds down highways and residential roads, putting Tennesseans in danger.
In response to constituent concerns, Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis) is proposing a new law that would allow police to seize street racers’ cars.
“I think it would send a clear message if we say, ‘we are taking that car from you and not giving it back,'” Gillespie said.
Gillespie said, in Memphis, street racers are almost a daily issue.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t get a call from someone about getting cut off on the street or the interstate. And it’s scary,” he said. “This is what my constituents deserve, to be able to go to the grocery store without looking over their shoulder”
But Gillespie says this is not just an issue in Memphis.
On Tuesday, two Dodge Chargers were drag racing in Knoxville when they hit another car. The crash killed one person and injured two kids.
Davey Spurgeon witnessed it all and did what he could to help.
“I walked around the side of the van and saw the little girl laying on the ground was like ‘oh no.’ So, I ran over to her because people were freaking out not knowing what to do. I got to her, she was lifeless, so I started CPR, pumping on her chest,” he recalled.
Drag racing has also been a regular issue for people in Middle Tennessee.
While drag racing can be dangerous for drivers and other citizens, Gillespie doesn’t think this bill will be easy to pass. He said many people in his own party don’t believe in civil asset forfeiture, meaning the police seizing property involved in an alleged crime.
“I understand that but these are people using dangerous weapons, a vehicle, in a very unlawful way,” he said.
Gillespie has been appointed to serve as the Vice Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, which will give him some power over the progress of this bill. He also says he has bipartisan support for this piece of legislation.
“It will be an uphill battle, but I’m prepared for it because this is what my constituents deserve,” he said.