After five people were shot following an incident among exhibition drivers in a parking lot near the Platinum of Birmingham nightclub early Sunday morning, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in a statement that he would push to criminalize exhibition driving further and “end this public menace.”
The practice of exhibition driving, also known as “hooning” or stunt driving, is when an individual or a group of motorists recklessly performs donuts, burnouts, or intersection takeovers on city streets with their vehicles. These often spontaneous gatherings also involve large crowds of onlookers that surround vehicles performing in parking lots or intersections.
The practice is far from uncommon in Birmingham’s nightlife, with Sunday’s incident not the first to result in injuries to onlookers.
“Exhibition driving is out of control in the city of Birmingham,” Woodfin said in a statement on Sunday. “It is not isolated to one part of town but occurring across the city on public streets and too often in private parking lots where no one has granted permission. Exhibition driving is dangerous and it is a crime.”
Woodfin said that the city would begin “work immediately” with state lawmakers to craft legislation to curtail exhibition driving, as present laws “are not strong enough.”
According to the mayor’s office, the maximum penalty for exhibition driving is a ticket for reckless driving.
A proposed list of penalties that Woodfin said his office would support include:
- If you are caught as an exhibition driver, your license be suspended for one year.
- The vehicle should be impounded, and the driver fined $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second offense.
- Video evidence of drivers engaged in reckless and dangerous exhibition driving be admissible for law enforcement to use in investigations and to hold the driver responsible.
- People who video such activity and turn it to law enforcement should be eligible for a reward.
- People participating as passengers and encouraging such actions should also be held accountable.
- Woodfin also said that the city’s Department of Transportation would place more strips down on streets as a deterrent to future exhibition driving incidents.
“We will continue to coordinate with state and local law enforcement to pursue and prevent this lawless activity,” Woodfin said. “We will consider any additional actions possible to reduce the risks of this criminal activity which endangers lives.”