T he California Assembly unanimously passed a measure last week reviving the state’s so-called “sideshow” car seizure ordinance that had lapsed earlier this year.
Under SB 67, police will be allowed to seize any vehicle they wish by asserting that it was involved in “reckless driving” on any street or parking lot.
According to state Senator Don Perata (D-East Bay), who authored the bill, sideshows can include any “exhibitions of speed” and “spinning donuts” that usually draw a large crowd of enthusiastic onlookers.
Once a vehicle has been seized, the law would allow the state to impound the vehicle for thirty days and can charge the vehicle’s owner towing, impound, storage, and administrative fees in addition to a fine of up to $1,000.
The ordinance allows the above penalties to be imposed without any finding of guilt by a judge or jury.
“This legislation is an important tool for law enforcement,” Perata said. “Sideshows and other car stunts put lives in danger and disrupt neighborhoods.”
The bill contains safeguards for car owners who were neither driving nor a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the violation, or were unaware that the vehicle was being used in sideshow activities.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the bill will now be sent to the State Senate. If approved by the Senate, the bill would then race on to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk where it will become state law if the governor should chose to sign it. The measure would become law immediately under “emergency” legislative procedures.
Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on SB 67, but supporters expect him to sign it.
According to TheNewspaper.com, the sideshow law, originally enacted in 2002, expired in January because the city of Oakland, which sponsored the initial bill, failed to keep statistics on the program’s effect. Despite the attention given to the issue, Oakland only seized 25 cars under the law, but was quick to take the concept one step further and create an ordinance that made merely watching a sideshow a crime carrying punishment of 90 days in jail and fines of $1000 with other cities following.
The original law resulted in a sharp decline in sideshow activity in Oakland and can now be applied to the rest of the state.
The proposed legislation can be viewed at: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0051-0100/sb_67_cfa_20070411_120116_sen_floor.html