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City, state officials address illegal exhibition driving in Baltimore

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Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 18:42:47-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Baltimore City and state officials are working to address the illegal racing and exhibition driving that has taken place in busy intersections all across the city and state.

“We are well aware of traffic crashes associated with this, both vehicular and pedestrian, the traffic congestion that is caused by the obstruction of these vehicles as well as the reduced service time of emergency vehicles,” said Col. Kevin Jones, Baltimore Police Department Chief of Patrol.

“It’s all over Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County. Not only is it our local folks, vehicles are coming from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. If we don’t do something to stop this, we are going to be known as the state where they can do Saturday night exhibition racing,” said Sen. Pamela Beidle.

Officials said Maryland has seen an alarming increase in these incidents.

“There’s a lot of people who are very disturbed by it,” said Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos.

Hampden business owner Behnam Peykari has seen it firsthand in Little Italy. It’s also happened right outside his storefront.

“It was a little bit of insanity,” said Peykari, the founder and CEO of Elevated Wellness Solutions. “Are we supposed to just leave every time they come and start to do donuts? Because the police were here. Their lights were on.”

He wants to see police take action.

“Murders and crimes in that category is absolutely priority number one but guess what? If things like this continue to happen, we will be part of that bigger issue eventually because it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt,” said Peykari.

“We are just trying to get a handle on it because BPD has felt that it’s hard for them to take action because it might end up being a really bad altercation,” said Ramos.

Col. Jones said it’s also a drain on resources.

“We now have to address it with multiple officers, supervisors, our helicopter unit. We have our open source and data driven strategy to track the social media aspect of this,” said Jones.

A bill moving through the state legislature right now would help by increasing the current deterrents that officials say are not working.

“A few hundred dollars in fines is really nothing for these people who spend tens of thousands of dollars on their vehicles to make them the wildest, fastest and most audacious on the road,” said Anne Arundel County Police Lt. Michael Shier.

MORE: Street racers perform donuts outside Baltimore Police headquarters
SB612 hits the offenders in their pockets by Increasing penalties, fines and points and allowing officers to impound vehicles.

“When we put points on your license and your insurance company drives up your insurance, we are going to disincentivize you in multiple ways,” said Councilman James Torrence.

Street racers perform donuts outside Baltimore Police headquarters

The House Environment and Transportation Committee held a hearing on the bill Tuesday.

It has passed in the senate and the house is likely to vote later this week.

“The penalties that are attached to 612 would demonstrate that Maryland takes this problem seriously and it would be an important part of discouraging this behavior before the worst happens. Especially the towing provisions. These people are car enthusiasts. They certainly don’t like to have to walk home. That would be a strong deterrent,” said Shier.

City officials also said it’s important to address the root causes of the exhibitions.

“If people are not living in good conditions and people feel like no one cares about them, how are they going to care about anybody else? So I think this is a much bigger issue and I want to tackle it that way,” said Ramos.

“We are busy working about the Western district to prevent persons who we know are either going to perpetuate the crime or murder or the persons who are going to be victims. We are making sure we are talking to them and providing them resources,” said Torrence.