What’s being done to combat drag racing & reckless driving in Memphis?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Drag racing and reckless driving continue to be a significant problem for the city of Memphis.

That’s why city officials and the Memphis Police Department are working to crack down on the drivers who are responsible.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said arrests are up, but many of these cases go unprosecuted.

In 2021, Weirich said 790 people were arrested for reckless driving and 72 for drag racing.

That’s up from 652 arrested for reckless driving and 30 for drag racing in 2020.

However, very few drag racing arrests end in conviction.

“The loud noises, you see the effects of donuts being done in the street,” Tonya Dyson of Memphis said.

Revving engines, street racing, and police sirens often keep Dyson and her neighbors in downtown Memphis up at night.

“It’s definitely not safe for pedestrians and just overall foot traffic in downtown. It’s just unsafe everywhere,” she said.

While drag racing arrests are up from the year before, Weirich said charges are often dropped or lowered because of a lack of available witnesses and evidence.

Last year, a new state law increased the penalty for drag racing to a maximum sentence of up to a year behind bars.

Weirich said she’d like to see the state take that a step further and issue a new law that would allow police to seize an offender’s vehicle upon arrest.

This way, she said there would be more evidence, and drag racing cases could be easier to convict.

As for Dyson, she said getting drag racers and reckless drivers off the streets is a matter of safety.

“I haven’t heard any stories of anyone getting hurt or anything like that, but with reckless driving, it’s only a matter of time,” she said.

City Councilman Chase Carlise said getting these drivers off the streets is not just an effort being made by the police department but across the board.

He said drag racing and reckless driving is an issue that is being felt in every community in Memphis and Shelby County.