Tennessee Legislators File Bill to Increase Penalties for Drag Racing


Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) on Monday filed Senate Bill 14, which would, if enacted into law, classify drag racing as a Class A misdemeanor.

State Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis), according to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, is co-sponsoring the bill in the Tennessee State House, House Bill 0022.

“Drag racing is illegal in Tennessee. Current law classifies it as a Class B misdemeanor, the same as reckless driving. HB0022 enhances the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor, making it akin to a DUI charge,” Gillespie told The Tennessee Star Monday in an email.

“This is a much more serious offense, and this law needs updating. Drag racing is a very intentional and irresponsible act that puts other innocent lives in danger.  By strengthening this law, I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to keep Tennesseans safer on our roadways.”

Kelsey, in an emailed press release, said “the popularity of illegal drag racing seems to be on the rise and is becoming more dangerous.”

“There has been an increasing number of complaints regarding drag racing on city streets. While it is widely understood that speeding in an automobile creates additional dangers, it is not always clear why this is the case,” Kelsey said.

“Beyond the increase in force at the moment of impact in a collision, traveling at excessive speed imposes many obstacles to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. These include decreased reaction time to avoid vehicles or pedestrians, inability to safety turn or to retain control through curves, increased risk of skidding off roads, increased rollover risk, etc.”

Kelsey’s press release said that Memphis City Council member J. Ford Canale is collaborating with Kelsey and Gillespie to discourage drag racing.

“This legislation is a step toward holding reckless drivers accountable by adding the needed tools to crack down on drag racing on our streets,” Canale said in the press release.

Canale plans to introduce supporting legislation to the Memphis City Council to deter drivers from drag racing, according to Kelsey’s press release.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Legislators File Bill to Increase Penalties for Drag Racing”

  1. LM

    I don’t know about Memphis , but in Nashville the boy racers in their fart pipe cars have gotten to be very obnoxious. They zoom around day and night and keep whole neighborhoods awake. Several of them have had massive wrecks with fatalities over the past couple of years. It’s about time somebody did something.

  2. Horatio Bunce

    Kelsey is the one who sponsored Google’s corporate welfare bill to prohibit county/local governments from any action against driverless vehicles. Those Teslas crashing into abutments, state police and running 90mph down the highway with the occupants asleep at the wheel are protected by Kelsey’s legislation. You can’t do anything about them.

  3. AWM

    Senator Kelsey, just in case you don’t know, there are already laws prohibiting drag racing. How about spending your time addressing the “gang activities” in Memphis. Memphis has now made the top five places in America to stay away from due to violence.
    With over 300 homicides already this year in Memphis of which nearly 100 are directly attributable to gang activities, drag racing should be the least of your worries.
    I agree drag racing on the streets is dangerous but there are far more deaths due to gang violence than drag racing.
    Senator Kelsey, Senator Gillespie your time & efforts spent on increasing the penalty for street racing is wasteful and gives the impression of looking for a “slam-dunk” for re-election purposes. Get real Senators, do something that requires some work & forethought. ADDRESS THE GANG CRIME & MURDER’S IN MEMPHIS.

  4. I suppose this is because of the TV Show about Drag Racers and hundred thousand dollars plus pro modified a pro modified cars in Memphis. The problem is Shelby county and Memphis promoting the show and telling Police to lay off. The Democrats and Hollywood are the problem. Kids racing from street corner to corner. on vacant streets are not the problem.
    These Two “Republicans” in name only are using it as an excuse for more control.
    Just like Georgia where now it is a $1,000.00 to drive over 90 mph when the average speed on the Interstate is 90, in cars now handle, brake and cruise effortlessly at any speed..on an Interstate system originally designed for 100mph and higher..and American Autobahn.
    Make the show use a Drag Strip and..keep Democrats and RINOs and Hollywood out of any mature matters and everything will be fine.