Should law enforcement be allowed to seize street racers' cars? One TN lawmaker thinks so.

street racing in Tennessee
Posted at 5:10 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 23:59:11-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One lawmaker is hoping to pump the breaks on a growing problem in Tennessee.

"People were literally just street racing on big streets, small streets, residential neighborhoods, you name it," said Republican Rep. John Gillespie from Memphis.

Gillespie previously passed legislation making street racing a class A misdemeanor which carries fines of up to $2,500, jail time, or both. But he said there's one problem with it.

"Drag racing is very hard to prove, especially in [a] court of law," said Gillespie. "So, what's happening is the DAs are charging these people with 'reckless driving' and not 'street racing.'"

That's why he introduced a new bill making its way through the state legislature.

"It would simply allow the law enforcement to seize your vehicle at the time of arrest," said Gillespie. "Tow truck comes, takes your vehicle away, and my intent would be for them to then destroy the vehicle."

In other words, cars involved in street racing could be subject to civil asset forfeiture.

"You got to keep in mind that a lot of people that are committing this offense of drag racing are driving in very nice cars — $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 dollar vehicles," said Gillespie.

He plans to include exceptions in the bill for cars being driven by someone other than the owner, but he thinks seizing cars will send a strong message to would-be racers.

"But at the end of the day, I think you should be safe going to the grocery store; you shouldn't have to look over your shoulder when turning out of your neighborhood," said Gillespie.