‘No teeth’: Prosecutors face challenges in stopping Charlotte’s street racers

CHARLOTTE — We’ve shown you the reckless street takeovers all across the Queen City -- drivers block traffic and eat up the asphalt, and innocent people are caught in the chaos. Now Channel 9 is learning that even if the drivers are caught, they may not face much punishment.

From SouthPark to Uptown, and even over to Steele Creek, neighbors have seen their areas being overrun by reckless drivers. Channel 9 reported on Tuesday when one man shared his interaction being attacked by what he called a mob of people near Westinghouse Boulevard.


Now, prosecutors tell us that it’s easy for someone to face criminal charges one night to be back out on the streets blocking traffic the very next day.

CMPD has been cracking down on street racing, with more than 50 people arrested for street racing-related offenses in 2021. If someone’s caught racing, their car can be seized and sold at auction.

But doing donuts in the middle of the street? That technically doesn’t constitute “street racing.” Neither does doing a burn out.

“Clearly something like this would fall under the realm of reckless driving, where you’re putting people or property at risk,” District Attorney Dan McNeill told Channel 9.

Reckless driving also includes speeders who go more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. However, that’s not going to land a suspect in jail for an extended period of time.

“It’s extremely hard to stop because the statute has no teeth,” said defense attorney George Laughrun.

Laughrun added that a reckless driving charge could be four points on your license and maybe a $500 fine, which is why he says in many cases, the street takeovers keep happening.

“They are going to continue to do it until something more formidable comes along that makes them stop,” Laughrun said.

A Prosecutor we spoke with said they understand that people are tired of this, and they’re doing all they can to press charges. That includes moving misdemeanor cases to a superior court, if they can, because that would bring a trial by jury.

CMPD responds to street takeovers

CMPD said it responded to two of last week’s street takeovers in different neighborhoods.

A witness who contacted Channel 9 said a street takeover in SouthPark lasted more than an hour and that officers arrived long after the crowd left.

CMPD said it got the first call at 12:24 a.m. on Oct. 29. The call was relayed to the nearby division four minutes later.

The first unit arrived at 12:38 a.m.

CMPD said that when officers got to the intersection of Park and Tyvola roads, the cars drove off.

Officers did not follow them.

On Tuesday, Channel 9 spoke with a driver who said he was caught in this chaos Saturday night at the intersection of Steele Creek Road and Westinghouse Boulevard.

The man said that people involved in the takeover attacked his car, busting out the back window.

He said he waited 20 minutes for the police to arrive.

CMPD said officers received a call at 11:18 p.m. Saturday and officers arrived within six minutes.

Officers spotted hundreds of people running and driving erratically.

CMPD said officers cleared the intersection and cited one driver with reckless driving.

Police also said they spoke with the victim whose car was damaged and took a report.

CMPD said it continues to investigate the incidents and strives to hold responsible those who break the law.

VIDEO: Street drifting, racing take over SouthPark intersection leaving residents concerned

Dan Matics

Dan Matics, wsoctv.com

Dan is a reporter and anchor for Channel 9.

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