House Bill 328
151st General Assembly (2021 - 2022)
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 21 AND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DRAG RACING AND OTHER DANGEROUS OPERATIONS OF MOTORIZED VEHICLES.
This Act makes several adjustments to the law prohibiting drag racing and other speed contests. Many individuals lawfully gather to share their enthusiasm for vehicles and may do so while abiding the rules of the road and without otherwise endangering persons or property. However, others have taken their enthusiasm into dangerous directions that often results in damage to property, injury, or death. For example, Kirkwood Highway has experienced an uptick in large crowds engaged in dangerous driving behavior and as the result of a drag racing event at the Christiana Mall Fashion Center, there was a vehicular fatality. Whether by drag racing, trick or stunt riding, conducting burnouts in intersections, doing donuts in parking lots, or taking over roadways to showboat, these dangers are further amplified by the crowd size that follows and the attempted notoriety sought through social media posts. The intent of the statute is to promote law-enforcement’s ability to enforce the statute, eliminate prior inadvertent loopholes in the current statute regarding geographic and vehicle type limitations, update the statute to reflect current dangerous driving trends and behavior, and ultimately serve as a deterrent for future unsafe behavior. The current statute incorporates potential penalties for the individual and their licensing status, but it does not address the actual vehicle, as the tool and mechanism that is central to the dangerous behavior. This Act enhances existing penalties and promotes public safety by restricting drivers charged with these dangerous driving behaviors access to their vehicles. • First, while a first offense remains an unclassified misdemeanor, a subsequent offense becomes a Class A Misdemeanor. The minimum applicable fines are substituted for mandatory community service instead. • Second, for the purpose of this statute, a subsequent offense is defined as one occurring within 5 years from a prior offense, rather than the default of 2 years set forth in 21 Del. C. § 713. • Third, the statute expands the list of prohibited conduct to better encompass existing dangerous driving behavior, like tire burnouts in intersections that are not part of races and the dangers to persons or property they pose. • Fourth, within the context of 21 Del. C. § 4101(a)(3), the statute more clearly defines the geographic enforceability of the statute on non-highway property, such as commercial parking lots, while still allowing commercial property or other owners to consent to the use of their property for these purposes. • Fifth, the statute expands the types of vehicles that the provision addresses, to include ATV’s and OHV, which are excepted from the 21 Del. C. § 101 definition of vehicles, but which are also used to engage in this behavior. Non street-legal vehicles are often used to participate in the dangerous driving behavior. • Sixth, recognizing that law-enforcement resources, crowd size, environmental factors, and other safety concerns do not always allow law-enforcement to prioritize on-scene engagement with single vehicles while the behavior in this statute is occurring, the Act expands law-enforcement’s ability to later investigate and arrest for violations of this statute. Under the current statute, violators, when contemplating commission of such offenses, might rely on the fact that law-enforcement safety and resource concerns might dictate that the violators cannot be apprehended on scene or that chasing them might be too dangerous to do. This Act expands the definition of “witnessed” by a law-enforcement officer, under 21 Del. C. § 701(a), to include after the fact review of video surveillance or any other video that captures the violation. • Seventh, the Act allows for the vehicles used, as the mechanism by which the dangerous behavior is conducted, to be impounded, de-registered, otherwise immobilized, or even eligible for forfeiture proceedings under certain conditions. As the same time, the Act does not prohibit an innocent owner from applying for return of the vehicle from the Court, under certain conditions, if their vehicle is used in a violation of this statute.