Street take overs in Southern California have become a big problem for law enforcement this year alone. And sadly, some have led to some deadly crashes. A new law will go after the drivers, charging them with felonies, according to its author.
Senate Bill 1472 will give judges and district attorneys the power to charge drivers involved in street takeovers, racing and side shows with felony manslaughter if their action leads to someone being killed.
Sen. Henry Stern (D - Thousand Oaks), the law's author, said it will "finally force DAs across the state of California to enforce our laws when there are incidents of manslaughter with vehicles and reckless driving. Whether it's from street racing, side shows or even extreme speeding."
"Those events are not just casual traffic infractions. When they take somebody's life, that's a murder. The law now says that," Stern said.
The new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, will be known as Ryan's Law. It's named after Ryan Koeppel, who was just 16 years old when he was killed by a reckless driver in August of 2020. His parents are relieved this new law will have harsher penalties for reckless drivers who cause someone's death..
"Today, I feel like we are getting some justice for him so that his legacy will live on in this bill by making sure that future drivers that kill somebody don't just walk away with a slap on the wrist. There needs to be greater consequences when you break the law and kill someone," said Carin Koeppel, Ryan's mother.
Law enforcement refers to the cars as weapons when the drivers are showing off during street takeovers or racing. The new law will pay to put more officers on the streets to go after these drivers.
LAPD Lt. Matt Bielski said the bill "improves our ability to continue to go out and enforce the street racing laws so that we can decrease the number of street takeovers and street racing within the city of L.A. "
LAPD says their street racing task force has already given out more than 800 tickets and impounded dozens of cars and made dozens of arrests.
Stern says there's about $100 million in the state budget earmarked to put more law enforcement on the streets and also pay for overtime. He says about $6 million of that will be coming to Southern California.