Florida lawmakers crack down on parking lot takeovers, street racing

I-TEAM: Tire tracks that cover Argyle parking lot are the aftereffects that many lots around Jacksonville have been left with

The Florida Legislature has moved forward with making certain types of car meetups and street races illegal.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Legislature has moved forward with making certain types of car meetups and street races illegal.

The state Legislature passed House Bill 399 to crack down on anyone who is involved in what are called parking lot takeovers or street racing and cracks down on people who go out to watch.

The legislation was passed unanimously and would take effect in October.

It would allow police to cite anyone doing stunts or street racing in ways that are not currently listed as illegal. “Drive any motor vehicle, in any street takeover, stunt driving, race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance,” reads the bill.

It would also prohibit the filming of this type of driving and promoting of it on social media. Passengers in these vehicles could also be cited. The legislation includes a scaling citation that gets worse every time someone is cited by police. The first offense could be punishable by a $500 to $1,000 fine and a year’s suspension of your driver’s license. The fines and suspensions would increase for every subsequent violation.

State Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill, sent News4JAX the following statement on Wednesday:

“Illegal drag racing has become a life safety issue here in Florida and HB399 which I passed off the house floor and passed the senate will provide law enforcement the tools they need to cast a broader net on those breaking the law as well as all those whom are an accomplice. Life safety must always be a priority!”

The bill has not received Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.

News4JAX on Wednesday stopped by an Argyle parking lot that has been used by groups to do peel outs. Shoppers there didn’t notice the damage to the lots until we pointed it out.

“I actually see it here too, and it’s pretty bad actually,” said shopper Kennedy Ferris. “I don’t think it should be like a situation where it goes on your record. But maybe it would deter people from doing it. So I don’t think it’s bad for them to arrest people, but maybe, what do you call it? Catch and release?”

The tire tracks cover an Argyle parking lot. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

I-TEAM REPORTS: Doughnuts & street racing: Late night reckless drivers a nuisance for downtown residents | Manager says street racers have caused $60K in damage doing donuts in strip mall parking lot | Complaints continue over car groups driving erratically in vacant parking lots | Local car group speaks following street takeover complaints | Councilman’s message to car clubs: Get off public property or buy your own place | Video appears to show police cruiser peeling out in Jacksonville parking lot | Witness says police cruiser seen in video was trying to disperse crowd gathered for car club meetup | Residents say drivers are turning this area of Jacksonville into a weekend racetrack | Street racing concerns surface in another area of Jacksonville | 2 street racing crashes in 2 weeks spark more safety concerns | Instagram video shows ambulance doing doughnuts in parking lot

The tire tracks that cover the Argyle lot are the aftereffects that many lots around Jacksonville have been left with.

Car meetups have peppered the city, along with street racing that in some cases had led to crashes. In one incident last month, two motorcyclists were killed while doing stunts together on the Northside, police said.

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Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.