Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) sponsored and passed out of committee a substitute to House Bill 1442 by Representative Ann Johnson (D-Houston) to give police and prosecutors more tools to take down organized street racin
“HB 1442 throws street racers and street takeover criminals in “park,” by giving law enforcement more tools to throw these criminals on the sidelines,” said Senator Bettencourt.
"Our message is clear: If you participate in these criminal acts, we’re going to throw the full weight of the law at you.
“Lots of bipartisan resolve to stop this in its tracks!” Bettencourt said.
Recently street takeovers have become common occurrences in Texas. In Houston arrests have been made almost weekly through 2023 for street and parking lot takeovers.
A report by ABC 13 found that in 2022, the Harris County District Attorney handled 1,000 street racing cases, resulting in 200 cars being seized. More recently, on February 18, 2023, the City of Austin suffered seven street takeover events in one night. During which, suspects threw fireworks at police vehicles, set streets on fire, and shut down multiple roads throughout Austin into the early morning hours.
“It’s a tremendous danger, and HB 1442 is an important step to stopping it,” said Senator Phil King (R-Weatherford), former Captain in the Fort Worth Police Department.
HB 1442 aims to give police and prosecutors more tools to take down organized street racing and takeovers. During the 87th Legislative Session, “Reckless Driving Exhibition” was created in code. However, under that code, police cannot charge suspects with Deadly Conduct for the basis to seize vehicles used in street racing and street takeovers, in some circumstances.
HB 1442 fixes this by creating a new section of code under the “obstructing a highway or other passageway statute” that will allow for vehicles being used during street takeovers to be seized by law enforcement. It also adds reckless driving exhibition statutes to the engaging in organized criminal activity statute.
HB 1442 will head back to the Texas House of Representatives to concur on amendments before being sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
“This was a bipartisan bill in both chambers. I’m proud to have worked with Senator King on stopping street racing in the Senate version, and Rep. Johnson’s office on this, and look forward to it being sent to Governor Abbott, who launched his own task force to tackle street takeovers,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.