Fast and the Furious: Tampa Bay?

10:32 AM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- They're flying down the freeways like the Fast and the Furious, burning rubber and gathering crowds. Street racing is incredibly popular in Tampa Bay.

In fact, videos of the racers can be seen on YouTube. You'll see familiar hotspots like the Gandy Bridge and the Courtney Campbell Causeway. You'll hear the hooting and hollering. You'll also hear the four-letter words and the demands to go faster.

One hundred and fifty miles-an-hour, in some cases.

"It's very dangerous," says Sgt. Michael Walek. "You could blow a tire, swerve out of control, kill someone."

The veteran Clearwater police sergeant says the racers give all kinds of excuses. "They say they're not hurting anyone. They say they're just having fun. A word of advice, we are watching. Obey the speed limit."

Tampa Police investigated 19 cases last year over an eight-month period. TPD says the races usually happen on a "long stretch of road."

In one recent case this week, a Tampa police sergeant was hurt when a car racing on the Courtney Campbell crashed into him. The officer was taken to the hospital and released.

Sgt. Walek points out, "You can hurt an innocent bystander."

The Clearwater sergeant admits it's tough to catch the racers.  They operate late at night. The races are over quickly. The participants communicate through social media to spread the word.

For one man, street racing is big business, and business is booming. Bay area defense attorney Jason Mayberry represents the racers in his law firm.

"Guys like cars, women like cars, that's never going to go away," he says.

Mayberry says he enjoys helping people whenever he can. The longtime lawyer, who handles countless streets racing cases, tells 10 News, "I try to do some good for people, for their lives."

So, what do the racers tell their attorney?

"'Hey, we weren't out to hurt anyone. We checked and the road was clear. This is how we have fun,'" Mayberry says his clients tell him. "There can be large punitive damages. The law is broad."

If you want to know more about street racer attorney Jason Mayberry, visit here.

For first time offenders, you can lose your license and pay up to $1,000 in fines. Those inside the car, along with people alongside the racing route, can receive citations.

Sgt. Walek says the racers know the cops are out there and don't seem to care. He says with a smile, "We won't give up. We're watching."

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