Usually, a police officer must directly witness a misdemeanor in order to make an arrest. Usually.
A new Florida law that went into effect on October 1 now allows the arrest of street racers and sideshow and takeover participants based on social media posts. Post a TikTok of yourself doing donuts in your Charger in Tampa and the cops can now come nab you for the offense. Any Floridian dopey enough to throw their stupid car antics up on social media is now kind of asking for it. Organizing a meetup over the internet? That’s enough for a bust now.
A video like the one embedded here is now evidence.
The new law was proposed by state senator Jason Pizzo after a dramatic presentation to colleagues in January. Pizzo, a Dade County democrat, showed the Senate Transportation Committee a video of a takeover that included several shots of cars doing smokey donuts with passengers hanging out of the vehicles. And, according to Newsweek, it included one shot of a woman’s severed head.
“That's a mother of four who was decapitated,” Pizzo reportedly stated during the presentation. “They were leaning outside the car, and these cars go astray."
“People have public profiles that are showing racing and doughnuts and tear-outs and terrorizing a neighborhood,” Pizzo further told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s something people can do because there were no police officers there.”
There was essentially no opposition to the bill in Florida’s legislature and it passed unanimously. In June, Florida’s governor, the very Republican Ron De Santis, signed it into law.
If the new law is successful in battling takeovers and street racing, expect similar laws to spread around the country. Many states and many more municipalities are looking for enforcement tools that will reduce the appeal of such on-road antics. And hitting participants online seems a promising way to reduce the appeal of such activities.
Violators convicted under the new law can be fined between $500 and $1000 and have their driving privileges revoked for a year. It remains to be seen how the law will be enforced. Maybe prosecutions will be limited to takeovers and street races posted on social media. Though it's possible it could also cover violations like late-night speed runs.
Internet fame may be tantalizing, but it can also now be expensive.
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