HOUSTON – “I love this car. I have to maintain and pay a lot for this car monthly, and now, I don’t have it anymore over somebody else’s actions.”
This is a father’s plea to a Harris County courtroom after having his vehicle seized for illegal street racing.
The man said his son was caught street racing without his knowledge or permission, which resulted in the seizing of his vehicle. It’s a situation we may start seeing more often in the Houston area.
In August, Gov. Greg Abbott signed two to help combat street racing. The legislation House Bill 1442 and House Bill 2899 enhance the penalties for illegal street racing and provide law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to address these crimes.
“Illegal street racing has become a growing problem, and Texas law enforcement needs new tools to curb illegal street racers whose activities threaten the very safety of everyone around them,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank Representative Johnson, Representative Plesa, Senator Bettencourt, and Senator Hall for bringing these two important pieces of legislation to my desk. Together, we are ensuring Texas remains a law-and-order state and that our law enforcement has the tools they need to secure our streets.”
House Bill 1442 provides law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to go after organized street racing and street takeovers in Texas and elicit more substantial consequences for the perpetrators of these crimes.
House Bill 2899 allows the immediate removal of vehicles used in street racing or a reckless driving exhibition from the road for the safety of other drivers. The bill removes the current requirement that a vehicle be impounded only if there was property damage or someone suffered bodily injury and instead allows impounding if the owner is charged with racing on a highway or reckless driving exhibition.
Both Louisville, Kentucky and Chicago have similar laws that passed last year, and both areas seem to have decreased the number of street racers on their roadways as a result.
So, what about Houston? Houston area law enforcement agencies say they’re still working to get their officers trained up on the new law.
“It takes time. Law enforcement, we’re not robots. We’re like everyone else. We have to read and learn how to utilize that law the right way because we don’t want to make a mistake,” said Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan.
Meanwhile, training is already underway in at least one other department, according to a written statement KPRC 2 received from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
“The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office fully supports these new house bills. Before these bills took effect, we collaborated with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office on enhanced charges regarding street racing and takeover prosecution. These enhanced charges and measures are consistent with House Bill 2899 and House Bill 1442. Our deputies have already received guidance and training on these measures previously but will receive additional training as they attend their scheduled in-service training for the new TCOLE Training Cycle.”