Drag racing: new law will put hot rodders in jail for 180 days

Danger sport is a killer – and cops are sick of it

A Louisiana state senator and the executive director of the state’s highway safety commission plan to launch an aggressive campaign to put an end to drag racing on public streets.

When Louisiana’s legislative session meets in Baton Rouge on April 30, Sen. Don Cravins Jr. will introduce a bill to increase fines and jail sentences for anyone who violates the state’s drag-racing law.

“Drag racing is a lethal sport that is increasing in South Louisiana,” James E. Champagne, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, told the Herald-Guide.

“I worked  with  Sen. Cravins to craft this bill and I will travel with him  when he  introduces it this legislative session.”

Champagne said anyone who is caught drag racing by police could pay a fine as high as $1,000 and serve six months in jail.

Currently, the fine for violating state law prohibiting drag racing is $175 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.

Subsequent violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.

Champagne says billboards are being posted in strategic “danger locations” to inform drivers of the consequences of drag racing on public roads.

St. Charles Parish police officials declined to comment for this report.

“There were four deaths in Lafayette Parish alone last year because of drag racing, but I will tell you there are more accident related crashes that happen but are simply not reported,” said Champagne.

“When an accident occurs, police officers put drag racing on the report only if it caused a wreck and only if is the primary reason for the crash,” he said.

“If a driver was drinking alcohol and drag racing, the police officer would list drag racing as a secondary cause of the accident and the traffic department looks at the primary reason for an accident when making reports on the number of incidents,” Champagne explained, adding:
“With our rural highways being so severely in need of repair, drag racers are turning to urban highways, and this is extremely dangerous for other drivers.”

According to state law, “it is illegal to drive any vehicle upon a public road in any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, or exhibition of speed or acceleration for the purpose of establishing a speed record.”

Sgt. Markus Smith, public information officer for the Louisiana State Police, said: “The additional factors involving speed contests increases the chances of serious injury or death, things like vehicle crashes are already the number one cause of death for young people (and racing just makes a bad situation worse).”

If you witness drag racing, say law enforcers, you should call emergency 9-1-1 and report it.

Questions? Comments? Write to Shonna Riggs at editor@heraldguide.com

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