Seattle cracks down on street racing with new legislation, $500 fine

On a typical Saturday night, the quiet of Seattle's residential streets is shattered by the deafening roar of modified engines and screeching tires like that of the "Belltown Hellcat." These illegal street racing events, often glorified on social media, have become a growing problem for the city. But now, the city is taking decisive action.

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison introduced new legislation Tuesday aimed at curbing these dangerous activities, and cited an increase in these events and related violence as the reason for the proposal.

"The new civil infraction would give police a tool to hold vehicle owners accountable when their cars are used at these events," Davison said in a news release.

In May, an illegal street racing event in Lower Queen Anne — which looked like a scene out of "Fast & Furious"included more than 500 people and 150 vehicles. 

queen anne street takeover

Over 150 cars and 500 people showed up to Lower Queen Anne for a street takeover event on May 11, 2024, in Seattle, Wash. (FOX 13 Seattle)

Under the legislation, registered vehicle owners involved in illegal racing events could face a $500 fine. It also broadens the definition of street racing to include drifting and "street takeover" events

The legislation also states that offenders may be required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Reckless driving in Seattle under the new legislation

  • Any person who drives any vehicle in the city in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
  • A person convicted of reckless driving who has one or more prior offenses as defined in RCW 46.61.5055 within seven years shall be required, under RCW 46.20.720, to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated by the person if the conviction is the result of a charge that was originally filed as a violation of subsection.

The proposed bill is part of a broader effort by the city to enhance public safety and curb dangerous driving behaviors; it will now be reviewed by the Seattle City Council's Public Safety Committee.

View the details of the new ordinance on the Office of the City Clerk's website.


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