TAMPA, Fla. — It’s an issue that never seems to go away.
Just ask Lt. Ricardo Ubinas, a shift commander for the Tampa police district that includes the Howard Frankland, Courtney Campbell and Gandy bridges, the Bay area’s prime hot spots for racing.
“It’s a straight shot. They go 150, 160, 175 miles an hour…straight across,” said Ubinas, a longtime Tampa officer who spent much of his career cracking down on street racing.
Progress has been made to reduce racing along the Courtney Campbell, but when officers crack down, the problem often moves elsewhere.
Enforcement also comes with risk.
“We can’t have cars that are going to flee from us at 150 miles an hour," Ubinas said. "Now they’re going all across town fleeing from the officers."
With each bridge spanning across two counties, that also create issues.
“It makes it difficult,” said Ubinas. “They’re exploiting that gap between the jurisdiction. It’s not impossible, but very difficult to make the cases.”
Police now are asking for help from local businesses. Photos from Saturday night show tire marks at a gas station where racers were spinning out. Police say when gas station owners give officers trespass authority, they can break up crowds before things get out of control.
“We don’t want them accumulating in those areas for the purposes of meeting up and furthering their races,” said Ubinas.
And while racing may seem harmless to some, police know the results can be deadly.
“They’re not just a threat to themselves they’re a threat to everyone else on the road at those hours of the night.”
Tampa police issues dozens of citations every weekend and will be stepping up enforcement even more in the future.
“Street racing is a crime," Ubinas said. "It’s an arrestable crime, it’s not just a traffic ticket. You will be taken to jail and your car will be impounded for 30 days. We want to make sure these young drivers have a fair warning and know what they’re in for if they go out and participate in street racing.”
►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10News app now.