by Evan Stambaugh
The Twin Cities suburb of Blaine is the first city in Minnesota to criminalize street racing with a specific ordinance.
The ordinance deems street racing and “exhibition driving” an unlawful assembly, which is a misdemeanor offense. Both drivers and spectators are liable to be charged under the ordinance, which took effect Monday, September 19.
In a statement to KARE, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart warned that anyone caught participating in such “criminal behavior” would be arrested and prosecuted.
“The illegal street racing groups have created even more dangerous environments for our families,” he said. “As criminals become more emboldened, they can be confident that Anoka County law enforcement will not waiver in our commitment to safer streets and stronger communities.”
According to the Blaine Police Department, there have been no instances of street racing or exhibition driving since the ordinance took effect.
Blaine city leaders acknowledged in the ordinance that street racing and exhibition driving have only been a serious problem since 2020, which coincides with the fallout from the George Floyd riots that left police departments greatly understaffed and diminished the presence of officers around the Twin Cities area.
“The city council recognizes exhibition driving and street racing pose a grave public health and safety risk to the person who engages in the unlawful activity and the persons who assemble to view or witness the unlawful activity. These events are a public nuisance,” the ordinance reads.
Street racing and exhibition driving events are often organized on social media. Many of them are known to damage property and, because they often take place well after sundown, disturb nearby residents. Two people were killed at street-racer gatherings last year.
In June Alpha News published an exclusive, inside look at Minneapolis’ street racing scene with a team of undercover police officers.
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.
Photo “Street Racing” by Erik Mclean.