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Exhibition and Street Racing Drivers to Face Heavy Penalties, Beginning June 1

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 30, 2024) - Beginning June 1, 2024, participants in street racing and exhibition driving in Maryland will face mandatory court appearances, up to one year’s imprisonment, as well as a doubling of fines to $1,000, thanks to a new law recently signed by Governor Wes Moore. The law also increases points assessed to convicted violators to 8 or more on their drivers’ records, potentially suspending or revoking drivers’ licenses.


“Thanks to the unified willpower for road and street safety demonstrated by our elected State officials, with the stroke of his pen, Governor Moore knocked down the ‘Welcome to Maryland’ sign for perpetrators of organized, criminal exhibition driving violence,” said John Seng, chair of the Maryland Coalition for Roadway Safety (SafeRoadsMD), whose group lobbied for the bills. “Maryland lawmakers decided that safety and calm on roads and in communities really matters. Continued roadway, shopping center and city center disruptions will not be tolerated. Violators will suffer significant penalties,” he said.


In recent years, highly organized, tech-savvy criminal gangs, oftentimes without warning, have taken over Maryland intersections, shopping malls, parking lots and town centers. This illegal activity has taken place from Baltimore County, to College Park, to Silver Spring and elsewhere across the state, to attract and entertain crowds, frequently for economic gain to organizers.


To deter the spread of this dangerous activity and in response to mounting constituent concerns, Senator Pamela Beidle, (D, District 32, Anne Arundel) and Delegate Mary Lehman, (D, District 21, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) introduced companion bills - SB 442/HB 601 - early in the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session.  


During a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Senator Beidle reported that 139 major exhibition driving incidents took place in Maryland in 2023. Delegate Lehman testified before the House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee, describing the dangerous stunt and speed events as growing in scale and likely continuing to disrupt communities, endanger law enforcement and risk serious injury and death to participants and passersby trapped in street blockades.


"We are thankful that the legislature and Governor Moore have strengthened the penalties to deter street racing and other dangerous behavior on public roads, said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy. “The new law will help to hold violators accountable. Simply stated, speed kills. Exhibition driving also places motorists and pedestrians in grave danger. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to keeping our roadways safe,” he added.


AAA joined the Maryland Coalition for Roadway Safety, Inc., who recruited dozens of advocacy and community groups and municipalities, including the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and the City of College Park in supporting the legislation.


“AAA Mid-Atlantic has been a long-standing proponent of this life-saving measure,” said Ragina Cooper Ali, the auto club’s Public and Government Affairs Manager for Maryland and Washington, D.C. “While research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has determined that even modestly higher speeds at the time of a crash dramatically increase the chances of severe injury and death, these dangerous illegal street races amplify those risks, endangering everyone - including spectators. The reckless and irresponsible actions of those who choose to treat our roads as a race track result in traffic disruption and fatalities,” Ali stated.


The new law focuses on people who engage or participate in race or speed contests, whether for a prize or reward, or not, including on any highway or private property used for driving by the public. The law also prohibits participating as a timekeeper or flagman. Anyone convicted of driving in a racing or speeding contest that results in serious bodily injury to another person faces imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both, according to the new law.


“This crucial legislation equips our law enforcement with additional tools to protect our neighborhoods from the chaos and disruption caused by these reckless events,” said Fazlul Kabir, PhD, Mayor of College Park, MD.


 The law defines “exhibition driving” as operating a motor vehicle in “close proximity to a crowd or gathering in a manner that intentionally results in two or more of the following,” including the following:

  • skidding

  • squealing or smoking tires

  • swerving vehicles

  • raucous or disturbing loud noise

  • grinding gears

  • backfiring

  • airborne wheels

  • passengers hanging out of windows or on vehicle hoods, etc.


“We were thrilled to be able to submit testimony in favor of HB 601,” added Stephanie Helsing, President  & CEO of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber heard from property owners, businesses themselves and residents who have been caught up in these terrifying rallies and exhibitions, sometimes unable to get away for hours because they are blocked in. We are convinced now, more than ever, that this legislation will have a significant positive impact, not only on the Silver Spring community, but the State of Maryland as a whole,” she said.

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