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Action Alert: Stop Senate Bill 10

Senate Bill 10, the overly punitive street racing legislation, has been scheduled for a hearing in Subcommittee A of the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, February 10, at 2:15 PM. We need you to contact the members of the subcommittee to ask them to vote NO on SB 10. 

As a reminder, SB 10 is an effort to increase penalties for people who participate in street racing events, which will cause harm to Black and Brown communities by: 

  • Creating new offenses,  
  • Declaring certain vehicles to be contraband and requiring forfeiture before conviction, and  
  • Imposing harsher consequences for those convicted.  

While SB 10 may be intended to deter unsafe conduct, the punitive approach upon which it relies will have no deterrent effect and instead will result in greater rates of incarceration, an especially harmful outcome during the current pandemic. Moreover, the mandatory forfeiture of a vehicle prior to conviction (regardless of whether the owner was the operator) will undoubtedly cause harm to working Georgians and families. 

Please call or email the committee members in the list below and ask them to vote NO on SB 10 as soon as you can. Feel free to use the below script, or come up with your own, based on the below talking points.

Chairman Bill Cowsert (404) 463-1366  [email protected] 

Senator Bo Hatchett (404) 656-7454  [email protected]  

Senator Harold Jones (404) 656-0036  [email protected] 

Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (404) 656-3932  [email protected] 

Senator Blake Tillery (404) 656-5038  [email protected] 

Sample Script:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME]. I’m calling with a message for [NAME OF COMMITTEE MEMBER]. 

I’m calling to demand that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee vote NO on Senate Bill 10, which increases penalties for street racing activity. We of course all want solutions that will make our communities safer, but this legislation does not provide any. In fact, there’s been no evidence offered to suggest that increased jail time will have any deterrent effect on car events. Instead, this punitive response will only lead to more young Black and Brown people in jail. Lawmakers should explore less harmful and more effective solutions to deter this activity as well as engage the car enthusiast community to find new and safe spaces for car-related activity. We need real solutions, not more punishment. Thank you.” 

Talking Points in Opposition to SB 10  

Further Criminalizing Drag Racing Is Ineffective 

  • Georgia already has laws on the books that criminalize drag racing. Increasing penalties and creating new crimes will not stop people from participating in car events. In fact, several studies indicate that punitive measures like that proposed in SB10 do not meaningfully deter the undesired conduct.  

Adding Points to Driver’s Licenses for Drag Racing Convictions is Overly Punitive  

  • Adding points to driver’s licenses for drag racing is an unreasonably harsh and unnecessary punishment, particularly when compared to the points designated for other traffic offenses in Georgia. No other offense listed on Georgia’s Point Schedule earns more than 6 points, yet SB10 would require 6 points on the first conviction, 8 on the second, and 12 on the third.    

SB 10 Harms Black and Brown Communities  

  • Black and Brown communities are already at a significant disadvantage in every stage of our criminal-legal system. Since younger people tend to participate in car events, SB 10, which unnecessarily increases opportunities for involvement in the criminal legal system, is likely to disproportionately target and harm Black and Brown youth.    

Jailing More People During a Pandemic Is Dangerous and Inhumane  

  • The increased penalties and criminalization that SB 10 proposes would place more people in jail during the pandemic. This is inhumane and dangerous. Jails are frequently sites of high COVID-19 transmission due to high turnover rates and overcrowding. Lawmakers should focus on legislation that mitigates the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s jails, not pass legislation that would worsen the public health crisis in Georgia’s correctional facilities. 

Forfeiture of Vehicles Will Harm Georgians Not Involved in Car Events 

  • Forfeiture of vehicles until adjudication — a process that may take up to two years — may create significant barriers for entire families who rely on one car to get to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other necessary activities. SB10 requires the forfeiture of vehicles, regardless of whether the owner was even engaged in the activity. This is unacceptable, particularly during a pandemic. Access to basic services is already limited, and essential workers rely on their cars to continue providing for themselves and their families.  

Lawmakers Should Prioritize Effective and Non-Punitive Responses to Drag Racing 

  • Drag racing is primarily a local issue. However, if state lawmakers insist on introducing drag racing legislation, they should focus on policy proposals that support nonpunitive local reforms, instead of further criminalizing undesirable behavior. Several studies indicate that increasing criminal penalties does not meaningfully deter undesirable conduct, and drag racing is no different. 

We encourage legislators who are concerned with the safety issues posed by drag racing to consider the following nonpunitive measures:  

Create Safe Alternatives to Illegal Drag Racing  

State lawmakers should support local communities to direct resources towards creating or encouraging the use of legal and safe racing areas. 

Work with Local Officials to Close Streets or Alter Traffic Flow and Parking in Areas at High-Risk for Drag Racing 

State lawmakers should coordinate with local jurisdictions to temporarily or permanently allow for speed humps, barricades, “k-railing” (concrete barricades), parking prohibition, and freeway message signs and billboards (both permanent and temporary) to inform racers.