The Wichita City Council voted unanimously on a ordinance designed to further prohibit street racing exhibitions and set harsher penalties for those involved.
The push for harsher penalties comes from the Wichita Police Department (WPD), seeing a rise in illegal street racing in Wichita and investigating three racing deaths in the past two years. WPD also cites citizens' complaints of noise, trash, property damage, and other crimes associated with groups who gather for racing and stunting on Wichita roadways and parking lots.
The new ordinance was initiated by the WPD and seeks to give them more authority to seek action not only against the drivers but also to target and penalize individuals who are spectators.
The proposed ordinance is expected to:
Expand the prohibition of speed contests from strictly highway to any unapproved surface.
Declare a car engaged in unauthorized racing to be a public nuisance and require impoundment from the scene.
Impose harsher penalties, including mandatory fines and mandatory monitored house arrest.
Deem it an infraction with a mandatory fine to spectate at racing and sideshow events; and.
Ban motorcycle stunting such as standing on the seat or popping wheelies.
While there are existing ordinances and state regulations in place to fight the issue, WPD claims they lack specificity, definitions, and a significant punishment to further prevent these acts.
First-time offenders could face seven days house arrest, three day car impoundment, and a $250 fine.
Second-time offenders could face 30 days house arrest, 20 days car impoundment, and a $500 fine.
Third-time offenders could face 90 days house arrest, 30 days car impoundment, and a $1500 fine.
WPD hopes the ordinance will help law enforcement crack down on the street races, proactively address them, and improve safety for other drivers, and pedestrians.