AUSTIN Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ceremonially signed two key laws to protect Texans from illegal street racing passed during the 88th Regular Legislative Session at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex in Fort Worth. The legislation, House Bill 1442 and House Bill 2899, enhances penalties for perpetrators of illegal street racing and provides law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to address these crimes, a press release said.
“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 in the release. “Just less than a month ago, Fort Worth Police broke up a street takeover and arrested five people involved. Today, we’re here to ceremonially sign two key new laws that will empower police to curtail these illegal street racers. 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.”
The Governor was joined for the ceremonial signing by Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker; Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw; Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn; Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes; Senators Bob Hall and Phil King; Representatives Frederick Frazier, Charlie Geren, Mihaela Plesa, and Nate Schatzline; and other law enforcement officials and public safety advocates.
“Street racing and street takeovers are not a victimless crime,” said Mayor Parker in the release. “Right here in Fort Worth, we lost a wonderful young couple who had three children. These types of incidents are all too common across the country. These are difficult times in this country. You have large cities falling apart because they’re not focused on public safety. The only way you have a thriving large city, that is focused on quality of life, is the men and women willing to wear a uniform and carry a badge.”
“Texas has made it very clear that a street takeover will not stand, period,” said Director McCraw. “We have an obligation to protect the state, and the law enforcement community is excited to have additional tools to be proactive. Nobody has a better, more professional law enforcement community than the state of Texas.”
“I thank the legislators and Governor Abbott for getting these bills where they’re at today,” said Sheriff Waybourn. “They passed these bills because they knew how bad Texans and law enforcement needed it. This is how we conduct public safety in Texas.”
“The signing of these bills by Governor Abbott today is an excellent example of cooperation,” said Chief Noakes. “This is a cooperative effort to fight back against the dangerous street racing and street takeovers by criminals who pose a significant threat to public safety. Governor Abbott, by signing these bills, you will help law enforcement agencies across all of Texas continue setting the example of what public service, public safety, and making our public a priority really looks like.”
In February, Governor Abbott announced the launch of a statewide street takeover task force to combat the rise in dangerous street takeovers happening across Texas. Since the task force’s inception, numerous takeover events have been thwarted or stopped in all seven of Texas Highway Patrol Division Regions. Working closely with local law enforcement, DPS has made over 50 arrests, conducted more than 590 traffic stops, and issued over 390 traffic citations associated with illegal street racing across the state.
House Bill 1442 (A. Johnson/Bettencourt) 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 (Plesa/Hall) allows 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.