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Lake Charles City Council votes on stricter penalties for drag racing

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Lake Charles City Council voted Wednesday night on an ordinance to invoke stricter penalties for those driving recklessly on Civic Center grounds.

Council members voted unanimously approving a measure to increase penalties for drag racing, while also discussing other measures to catch these drivers.

Lake Area residents pinpoint the Civic Center as a hub for reckless driving, what some call “an unsanctioned drag racing track.” Many of them say it’s been going on for far too long.

“Years,” said Amanda Pendergrass. “It used to be a thing like every Friday or Saturday night we would go out there, look at all the pretty cars and stuff like that. It was like a free car show pretty much. Well over the years, it’s been progressively getting worse, worse, and worse with some people tearing up stuff.”

“There’s track marks all over the place and sometimes they park in the grass and mess the grass up, so it’s definitely something that needs to be curtailed here on the Lakefront,” said Joel Daugherty.

Tire marks can even be seen in an aerial Google Maps image.

“They’re in their trucks on a Friday or Saturday night, and man, they are just going away at it,” said William Ward. “They are blowing the exhaust. They’re blowing tires out. They are having a good ole time over there.”

That fun may soon come to an end as the Lake Charles City Council votes for stricter penalties.

“It’s a particularly dangerous situation because you have people on bicycles, on skates, on skateboards like myself, and if they zoomed right in front of us, that could be a really bad incident,” Daugherty said.

“More factors in to the danger aspect of the whole situation,” Ward said. “One of these boys could be drinking. One of these boys could be on some type of substance or something like that, and they are going fast in their vehicles, and somebody could get hurt.”

Council members even suggest adding cameras down at the Lakefront to catch drivers in the act and record information on license plates. Some are pleased with the changes, but others want a sanctioned area for the unofficial car show.

“I totally understand them wanting to vote and penalize, but on another hand, we do need another spot where we can do that,” Pendergrass said.

“There’s a lot of people who complain about well what are the kids going to do or whatever. There are other things to do besides drag race on the Lakefront with the pedestrian area,” Daugherty said.

The first citation for reckless driving on Civic Center grounds will cost between $100 and $300. If caught for a second time, the cost will increase to a $300 to $500 fine or imprisonment of up to six months.

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