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Exhibition driving ban gets approval in Senate Judiciary committee

Death resulting from exhibition driving would be considered a Class B felony, with a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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An Alabama state Senate committee on Wednesday approved an amended bill to outlaw “exhibition driving” statewide, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers during the meeting of the Alabama Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday approved the measure without objection. 

Exhibition driving, which is the practice of holding impromptu races or exhibitions of speed and power, as well as performing burnouts and donuts in busy intersections, gained attention statewide after two incidents in late 2022 that led to serious injuries and death for several residents in Birmingham. The incidents prompted leaders in Birmingham to pursue a legislative solution to the practice.

In August, a shooting incident among exhibition drivers left five people injured outside a Smithfield nightclub, prompting Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to announce his intentions to push for criminalizing exhibition driving further and describe the practice as a “public menace.”

Later in December, more than a dozen people were injured and at least nine critically on John Rogers Drive in Birmingham after an exhibition driver lost control of his vehicle and drifted off the road into a crowd gathered on the shoulder.

“We’ve had four people get killed because the folks are out there with those cars, and those cars get out of control,” said state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, who is the bill’s sponsor.

For a first conviction, penalties include the possibility of imprisonment between five to 90 days, or by a fine of between $25 to $500, or both. The number of days possible to spend in jail and the monetary penalties increase with each conviction. Law enforcement officials would also be able to impound vehicles used by exhibition drivers for 48 hours.

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If an individual who is exhibition driving harms someone or causes property damage, penalties could range from a Class A misdemeanor with one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000; In cases resulting in more serious physical injury, a Class C felony with up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Death resulting from exhibition driving would be considered a Class B felony, with a maximum sentence of 20 years in state custody and up to a $30,000 fine.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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