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Louisville seizing cars used in street racing and spinning, will Indy follow?

Louisville ordinance snagging Indiana drivers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indiana State Police have tried to put an end to what drivers call spinning, a phenomenon where a group of cars will stop at an intersection or on the interstate, and start doing donuts, creating a bunch of smoke and havoc at the same time. Louisville has an ordinance that has trapped at least 12 Indiana vehicles. The ordinance not only allows police to fine the drivers, but take the car. 

“In the last year, we’ve had four fatalities that we know are directly caused by illegal street racing, the donuts, and the spinning that is going on in these intersections” said Ronald Fey, supervisor of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Traffic Unit.

In March of this year, I-Team 8 showed a video of cars spinning and doing donuts in parking lots and the interstate as you cross the Ohio river into the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and into the city limits of Louisville. Police call this “street exhibitionist.” In the past couple years, drivers looking to create this kind of street chaos have traveled across state lines to find those who are like-minded. Louisville created an ordinance to make those lead-footed drivers think twice 

“We got with our Metro Council and what the ordinance is the vehicles that are used to do some of these vehicle exhibitionist, illegal street racing, or even the vehicles that are used to block our access when these things are going on can be seized and held for up to 6 months, and the registered owner of those vehicles can be fined up to a $1,000 for the first occurrence and up to $2,000 the second time it happens,” said Fey.

The ordinance allows police to impound the car for a year for a second violation. This is in addition to a Kentucky state statute that could lead to suspension of driver’s license and possible jail time. The ordinance went into effect in April, right before the Kentucky Derby.  

“We have had a couple of issues here in Louisville where people from other communities come down. It was an invited event by some of the illegal car clubs that operate here in Louisville, and they have people from Indianapolis, Nashville, Cincinnati, and even as far away as Atlanta come to our community thinking this was an area where this was accepted, or look the other way and allow this to,” said Fey. 

The Louisville Metro Police Department has seized almost 50 cars in the 3-1/2 months since the ordinance went into effect. All of the cars are kept behind a tall fence and locked gates at the city’s impoundment lot. Police say these particular cars has been spotted at several street exhibitionist events and will probably stay parked for the foreseeable future. Technology plays a big part in the disruption of these events. The cops regularly monitor social media and Louisville police have helicopters, drones, and plenty of cameras to capture the cars, drivers, and license plates 

“One of the things is that we moved to utilize vehicles that have been seized in drug transactions, like what we have behind that cost the city no money to purchase and these vehicles are high-performing vehicles are able to get up and read the license plate in addition to utilizing the helicopter and drone technology to track some of these vehicles,” said Fey.

In Indianapolis, several parking lots used for these spinning events have enough tire rubber laid down in the pavement that is hard to see the parking lines. Louisville has the same problem and found a low-tech solution. The city’s Road Maintenance Department cut rumble strips in the asphalt, which has proven to be an effective tool.

I-Team 8 has asked Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office if there is an ordinance planned for Indianapolis, and they responded with this statement:

“Current Indianapolis ordinance does not authorize the impoundment of vehicles solely because of involvement in street racing. Impoundment is an enforcement action that raises constitutional concerns, so the city of Indianapolis and the City-County Council would need to study the legal implications of such a measure before considering it.”  

Is this ordinance working? The Louisville Metro Police Department says that it is, and they have not faced any legal challenges to the ordinance.