On Tuesday, the Tacoma City Council voted to crack down on street racing by prosecuting people who watch the illegal events.

The council unanimously passed a new law that makes spectators a target for arrest. Those found guilty can face a month in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Originally the sentence was three months in prison, but the council changed the wording of the new law.

The city defines “spectator” as anyone who was aware of, encouraged, or affiliated with the street racing event.

Street racing has been a problem for the city since 2021.

There was an 8.5% increase in 911 calls for street racing in 2021 compared to 2020, according to police figures.

In the first two months of 2022, figures show there were 180 calls for street racing. Looking at the same period of 2020, there were 84 appeals. That’s a 114% increase.

Last Sunday, neighbors report that a group of people took over the intersection of 36th Street and Tyler Street in Tacoma.

“I expected to be gone for five, ten minutes, and I’ve been gone for almost an hour,” said Stephanie, a neighbor who declined to use her last name.

Stephanie says she couldn’t get home because the road was blocked by the illegal speed display.

She says it’s not only a nuisance, but a safety issue.

“It’s annoying. Even sitting in my car, I was flustered and shaking because I thought someone was going to get hurt,” she said.

Stephanie agrees that something needs to be done to fix this, but wonders how law enforcement will determine who a “bystander” really is.

The new law is expected to come into force the first week of May.

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