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In Florida, police have new 'tool' to stop street racers. But it’s complicated.

Under new state law, police no longer have to witness the street racing. Video evidence and witness statements could be sufficient evidence to make an arrest.
Credit: 10News

TAMPA, Fla — "Fast and Furious" fans, listen up: A new state law is designed to make it easier for police to shut down illegal street racing.

Prior to July 1, officers had to witness the racing first-hand to make an arrest. Now, officers can make arrests with probable cause without actually having to see it happen.

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“Very often, we’d get a call and by the time we get out there everything's over with, everybody's gone,” Tampa police spokesperson Steve Hegarty said.

The new law allows police and prosecutors to use video and witnesses as sufficient evidence to make arrests without seeking a warrant.

And racers, be warned. Police say they could use your own video posted to social media against you.

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“They're surprisingly bold sometimes with some of their videos,” Hegarty said. “If you're out there street racing, you want to get some street cred."

But beyond any initial bust, the case must hold up in court, something several Facebook Live commenters noted would prove to be challenging.

“This law is very unconstitutional,” Jacob Miller said. “Video and witness statements aren't reasonable cause to believe someone was racing, as you can’t see who's driving the car.”

“It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court,” Gavin Baulac commented. “In reality, there will just be new methods used to evade law enforcement. Blurred videos, better organization etc.”

Law enforcement would have to identify the individual driving the vehicle, establish the speed, determine the credibility of any video submitted as evidence, among other things.

“It is a little bit more complicated but I will tell you we appreciate that legislators are trying to give us the tools,” Hegarty said. “They saw our hands our tied."

The law provides for stiffer penalties and notably changes the law to become a misdemeanor exception. 

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