September 17, 2015
Street Racing: Dangerous and Destructive
By Jonathan Damashek
The “Fast and Furious” movies may have grossed well over $2 billion globally, but the New York City street racing scene that inspired them is 100 percent illegal. Speeding, racing and reckless driving are all crimes that carry penalties, as they have caused deaths and destruction for decades.
Several thoroughfares in NYC neighborhoods are notorious for late night street races, where a whole subculture persists, despite police attempts to prevent them and reprimand racers.
When street racers crashed into an SUV killing five year old Jordan McLean on May 8, 2008 on the corner of 164th Place and 109th Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, lawmakers increased the penalties for street racing.
Former state Senator Serphin Maltese said “These daredevils jeopardize the lives of innocent people every time they get behind the wheel and race on our public streets. It is unconscionable and they should be held accountable.”
The bill to amend the penal code was known as “Michelle and Jordan’s law,” after Jordan McLean and Michelle Arout, a 17-year old killed in a Staten Island crash involving teenage street racers.
Arout’s friend Anthony Valore, 20 told the New York Times, “This could’ve been avoided if they weren’t jerking around.”
Now, N.Y. VAT. LAW § 1182 : NY Code – Section 1182: Speed contests and races states, “no races, exhibitions or contests of speed shall be held and no person shall engage in or aid or abet in any motor vehicle or other speed contest or exhibition of speed on a highway.”
First time offenders face a Class A misdemeanor, meaning they can go to jail for up to 30 days and must pay a fine of $300-$525. A second conviction in a 12 month period yields a Class E felony: up to six months of jail time and a fine of $525-$750. While street racing tickets do not result in points on a license, the speeding ticket that accompanies it almost certainly will. The speed limit on residential streets is 25 mph.
But the races continued in many neighborhoods. In 2010, CBS news reported that Maspeth residents were moving out one by one because of loud, dangerous street races on Maurice Avenue and other strips.
Articles dating back to the 70’s and 80’s chronicle horrific street racing deaths in East New York, Brooklyn and along Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside, Queens.
Recently, Queens resident Oneil Sharpe Jr., 24 was indicted for killing Ancio Ostane and his two children, Andy and Sephora, by crashing into them while street racing at more than 100 mph on the Southern State Parkway. The Ostane’s car burst into flame and Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane was the lone survivor. Several others were charged with crimes related to the crash.
New York City encourages residents to report street races to the authorities. To report street racing in progress, call 911 and to report past or recurring street racing, call 311 or file a complaint at nyc.gov.
If you are involved in any sort of vehicle collision, please contact us.