A Tennessee General Assembly bill targeting organized street racing continues through the legislative process.
It was previously reported that State Representative John Gillespie (R-Memphis-HD97) and State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon-SD24) have teamed up to introduce identical bills, HB1661 and SB1673. There are now fourteen co-sponsors in the state House, including two Democrats.
Representatives Mark White (R-Memphis-HD83), Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington-HD99), Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville-HD95), Ron M. Gant (R-Piperton-HD94), Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma-HD47), Lowell Russell (R-Vonore-HD21), Karen D. Camper (D-Memphis-HD87), Eddie Mannis (R-Knoxville-HD18), Glen Casada (R-Franklin-HD63), Jerome Moon (R-Maryville-HD8), Michael G. Curcio (R-Dickson-HD69), Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon-HD46), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville-HD56), and House Majority Leader William Lamberth have joined the legislation as co-sponsors.
These bills create a new offense in the state code, aggravated reckless driving, and establish it as a Class A misdemeanor. In Tennessee, Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum of 11 months and 29 days in jail, fines up to $2,500, or both.
The Senate version is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House version has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and is on their calendar for January 26, 2022.
The legislation amends Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 10, Part 2 by adding:
(a) A person commits aggravated reckless driving who: (1) Commits the offense of reckless driving, as defined in § 55-10-205; and (2) Intentionally or knowingly impedes traffic upon a public street, highway, alley, parking lot, or driveway, or on the premises of a shopping center, trailer park, apartment house complex, or any other premises accessible to motor vehicles that are generally frequented by the public at large.
(b) (1) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor. (2) In addition to the penalty authorized by subdivision (b)(1), the court may asses a fine of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) to be collected as provided in § 55-10-412(b) and distributed as provided in § 55-10-412(c).
These bills also amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-10-412, deleting subsection (b) and adding:
(b) The proceeds from the increased portion of the fines for driving under the influence of an intoxicant provided for in chapter 948 of the Public Acts of 1994, the additional fines for reckless driving, under § 55-10-205(d)(2), and the additional fines for aggravated driving, under SECTION 1(b)(2) shall be collected by the respective court clerks and then deposited in a dedicated county fund. This fund shall not revert to the county general fund at the end of a fiscal year but shall remain for the purposes set out in this section. For the purposes of this section, the “increased portion of the fines for driving under the influence of an intoxicant” is the first one hundred dollars ($100) collected after the initial collection of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) on a first offense, the first one hundred dollars ($100) collected after the initial collection of five hundred dollars ($500) on a second offense, and the first one hundred dollars ($100) collected after the initial collection of one thousand dollars ($1,000) on a third or subsequent
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “John Gillespie” by Tennessee General Assembly and photo “John Stevens” by Tennessee General Assembly.