Greenburgh Hits the Brakes on Drag Racing with New Law

Greenburgh is the latest Westchester County municipality that will permit law enforcement officials to seize the vehicle of anyone who is caught and convicted of an illegal speed contest.

The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously approved legislation last week that will authorize police to commence civil action seeking forfeiture of a vehicle used in connection with unlawful speed contests, also known as drag racing. Drag racing is currently prohibited within the town.

“I think the proposed law is a good law and I think that it gives us continuity,” Police Chief Chris McNerney said during the Dec. 9 Town Board meeting. “We are willing to do everything within our authority to address this issue and this gives us a little bit more authority.”

The law will be enforced on all streets within the town, officials said, with violators charged with a misdemeanor. Those who are convicted or plead guilty will forfeit their car to the town.

With drag racing a problem on Central Avenue, officials asserted regulating the act will provide the police with the enforcement tools to aggressively address the problem and effectively coordinate with neighboring municipalities. Yonkers and White Plains have passed similar laws.

Officials also amended the town code to restrict the noise associated with drag racing to ensure the health of safety of residents.

“The noise associated with unlawful speed contests creates a nuisance and diminishes the quality of life enjoyed by our residents,” Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said. “The races themselves are also dangerous, not only to the participants but to bystanders and other vehicles legally using the road.”

Passage was inspired by Yonkers resident James Nolan, who has appeared before several municipal boards and committees in recent months proposing legislation that would put a halt to drag racing. Nolan’s brother Michael was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2015 which stemmed from a Yonkers drag race in which he was not participating.

Since his death, the Nolan family has become the impetus for a campaign to address the dangers of drag racing and the nuisance it causes in different communities. The City of Yonkers passed a law in 2017 allowing police to seize the vehicles of those caught drag racing and charge the driver and event organizers with a misdemeanor.

A drag race is considered a competition between two road vehicles – usually taking place over a quarter mile straight track from a standing start, with the race often determining which vehicle has better acceleration. For many years drag racing has been a problem on major streets in Yonkers because of the straight roadways but has continued to spread to throughout the county.

Nolan has said previously that Yonkers’ law has worked drastically to cut down drag racing and help protect and save lives. He asserted that drag racing isn’t a sport or hobby, but a dangerous and careless act.

“This is a huge tribute to my brother and anybody that’s ever been hurt or put at risk because of these dangerous acts,” Nolan said. “These acts are not only unlawful, but they cause a lot of problems that we don’t need in the community.

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