White Plains Council Tries to Put Brakes on Drag Racing

The White Plains Common Council passed a package of legislation at its September 8th  meeting to address the problem of drag racing on city streets.

The main component of the package is a local law that would authorize the city to commence a civil action seeking forfeiture of a vehicle used in connection with drag racing (aka: unlawful speed contests) after the registered owner of the vehicle is convicted under or pleads guilty to section 1182 of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law. Section 1182 specifically prohibits speed contests and races. A conviction under this section is a misdemeanor.

In addition to the local law, the package includes two ordinances. The first ordinance adds a definition of unlawful speed contests to the city’s Municipal Code and provides penalties for those involved in such races. The second ordinance amends the city’s noise ordinance to clarify that noise created during an unlawful speed contest is a prohibited noise, also subject to penalties. A conviction or guilty plea under the city’s Municipal Code is a violation and can result in a fine.

“While our PD has been aggressive about issuing tickets, having these additional enforcement tools at our disposal will serve as a further disincentive to drag racing within the city,” White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said.

In December, Roach had the opportunity to meet with James Nolan. Nolan’s brother, Michael Nolan, was killed in a drive-by shooting that stemmed from a drag race in which he was not participating. The tragedy experienced by the Nolan family became the impetus for his campaign to address the dangers of drag racing and the nuisance they cause in our communities.

“This is a great honor to have White Plains pass this law in honor of my brother and to protect others from these unlawful and dangerous acts,” James Nolan said. “This law will do a lot of good and will go a long way to help avoid the heartache of losing a loved one. Illegal drag racing and dangerous acts with vehicles will not be tolerated anywhere in our community.”

“My brother was robbed of a future, was robbed of so much, but they will not take his legacy and this law is a part of his legacy,” he added. “Some people may say these acts are a ‘hobby or lifestyle,’ but make no mistake, these crimes are nothing other than an act of negligence for human life and it will not be allowed at all!”

Council Member Jennifer Puja commended Nolan for turning a personal tragedy into a triumph by bringing the legislation to local municipalities.

“Speed contests are not just a risk for those participating, but for bystanders and for residents,” Puja said. “The potential forfeiture of a vehicle sends a stronger message that speed contests are not tolerated in our city. As we near the fifth anniversary of Michael Nolan’s tragic death, we can honor his legacy by keeping our city streets safer for all. ”

This legislation sends a strong message that Drag Racing will not be tolerated in White Plains,” Council Member Justin Brasch remarked. “Not only can you get a ticket for speeding and creating noise, now we can confiscate your car.  This will hopefully put an end to drag racing in White Plains and save lives.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said drag racing has been on the rise in the county.

“From the risk to motorists and pedestrians to the toxic behaviors associated with it, we must put an end to illegal drag racing,” Latimer said. “I commend Mayor Roach and the Common Council on their efforts to do just that.”