In the United States, street takeovers and illegal racing are more popular than ever. Hundreds of participants and spectators close off traffic during these events, which can last hours. These closures hinder efforts by the police to stop them. As a result, innocent people caught in the middle have suffered serious injuries or been killed.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, in California, many offendingdrivers only faced minor charges due to outdated traffic laws. This has naturally caused great distress for the victims and their families, and increased demands for tougher laws from the public.
California decided to listen to these demands. In 2023, drivers who injure or kill someone in street takeovers will face more severe punishments. Senate Bill 1472 will clearly define street racing and takeovers in relation to reckless driving. It will letprosecutors charge drivers with a felony if they kill or seriously injure someone while participating in street racing or a sideshow. It closes the legal loophole that allowed accused drivers to avoid serious consequences for injuring or causing the death of someone in these events.
The sharp increase in sideshows can largely be attributed to theappeal of empty streets during pandemic lockdowns along with movies that glorify them. Since then, they have become an increasingly significant concern for communities across the country. There seem to be news reports detailing major injuries and deaths on an almost daily basis.
“SB 1472 is a welcome change,” explained attorney J.J. Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm. “For too long, injured victims and their families have felt powerless as drivers who have caused them so much pain receive lenient sentences or walk free despite their terrible actions. As for those who suffered injuries or deaths due to illegal street takeovers before 2023, they can sue those responsible in a civil court regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. They should speak with a car accident lawyer to discuss seeking financial compensation for their devastating experience as happened in the case of Monique Muñoz in 2021,” he concluded.
Attorney Dominguez is referring to Monique Muñoz, a 32-year-old woman who was inadvertently caught up in a street race in West Los Angeles. She died instantly when a teenager in a Lamborghini hit her while traveling at over 100 miles per hour along one of the city’s main arteries, Olympic Blvd. The driver, who was underage and from a wealthy family, was sentenced to seven to nine months in a juvenile detention center and four years of probation.
Despite the lenient sentence, Monique Muñoz’s family was still able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver’s family, as he was still under 18 when the crime occurred. In the end, they received a settlement of $18.8 million. Naturally, no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, making the responsible party pay financially when they’ve suffered little to no consequences for their actions in criminal court can help provide some sense of restitution. Of course, Senate Bill 1472 comes too late for the family of Monique Muñoz, but from now on, these new stricter laws will help provide stronger punishment for those who kill innocent victims while participating in street takeovers and dangerous racing.