Alabama Senate committee approves bill creating penalties for exhibition driving
Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, points at the Alabama Senate gallery on March 7, 2023. Legislators gathered Tuesday for the first day of the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 regular session. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)
An Alabama Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill prohibiting some vehicle maneuvers tied to exhibition driving.
SB 58, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, creates penalties for potentially dangerous moves in cars.
“We have had four people get killed because the folks are out there with these cars out of control,” Smitherman said. “I actually saw this myself in midtown. I am sitting on the balcony and I am seeing them do donuts and spinning.”
The legislation moves to the full Senate for consideration.
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Smigtherman’s bill has the support of Birmingham legislators and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. According to the Birmingham Times, the bill is in part a response to an August incident in the city, where one person was killed and five people shot during exhibition racing. In December, a crash related to exhibition driving in Birmingham reportedly left 13 people injured.
Few statistics on exhibition driving are available.
Over the last year, Exhibition Driving has led to injuries and death on the streets of Birmingham,” the release states.
Smitherman’s legislation prohibits drivers from engaging in motor burnout, in which the driver uses a brake pedal or parking brake to keep a car stationary while using the gas pedal to make the vehicle’s wheels spin.
It also prohibits motor vehicle donut maneuvers, when a driver moves the vehicle in a zig-zag or circular manner. The legislation also prevents people from racing their vehicles as well as performing stunts with their cars on the road or in a parking facility.
A first offense could result in five to 90 days of imprisonment and a $25 to $500 fine. Additional violations could increase imprisonment time from 10 days to six months, and the fine to between $50 and $500.
Injury or property damage resulting from exhibition driving would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000. A court could also suspend the person’s driving privileges for six months.
Serious physical injury from exhibition driving would be a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Causing a person’s death in exhibition racing would be a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.
The bill would allow law enforcement officers to impound the vehicle of a person violating the law for 48 hours. A driver would have to pay any towing or storage costs to recover the vehicle.
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