PHOENIX — A change in state law that went into effect on September 29 could help put a stop to illegal street racing.
The Phoenix Police Department says it has been trying to crack down on these illegal events for years.
“It’s absolute chaos,” said Sergeant Joe Mills, when asked about what an illegal street racing event is like.
Sergeant Mills has been a part of the Phoenix Police Department Street Racing Task Force since it started back in 2019.
He says, given the new laws, any activity where the driver tests the capabilities of their car on city streets is considered illegal street racing. That includes doing burnouts or donuts.
Plus, it isn't just the drivers who face charges and jail time for racing illegally. Those who are caught participating can also be charged with aiding and abetting and face fines.
"First-time street racing and second-time street racing have minimum fines that are associated with them. $250 and $500 respectively, plus 83% in surcharges, plus some other surcharges as well," said Deputy County Attorney Courtney Sullivan.
Sullivan says she is currently prosecuting 12 illegal street racing cases and is processing a dozen others.
She tells ABC15 these races don't just happen on surface streets.
"Cases come through where people are on the highways at speeds in excess of 110, 120, 130 miles an hour in metropolitan Phoenix," said Sullivan.
"They'll occupy the freeway. They'll shut down the flow of traffic," added Sergeant Mills.
Recently, 20-year-old Diego Guerrero served 10 days in jail for doing burnouts. He has prior felony convictions related to street racing.
He also remains on the radar of investigators to this day.
"So, they're not allowed to participate in, promote, or attend any street racing or car club events," Sullivan told ABC15.
The Maricopa County Attorney says if Guerrero were to even post on social media, promoting an illegal street race, his probation could be revoked and he could face up to two years behind bars.
"Take some personal responsibility for your actions," said Sergeant Mills.
"We're not going anywhere, and we will continue to enforce this behavior until it stops, one way or another," added Sullivan.
If you have a second street racing conviction within two years of the first, it can be charged as a felony.
The changes in the law also allow Phoenix Police to impound a car involved in street racing for 20 days.
Phoenix police say these are the illegal street racing hotspots they oftentimes get called to:
- 22nd Avenue and Durango Street
- Southeast corner of 67th Avenue and the I-10 freeway
- Loop 202 southbound/northbound near 59th Avenue
- I-10 eastbound between 67th Avenue and southbound lanes onto Loop 202