Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Monday to toughen penalties for illegal street races by criminalizing promotions on social media and potentially confiscating cars.

The newly enacted measure makes it a misdemeanor for anyone in Georgia to organize, promote or participate in street racing, also called drag racing.

It will also require driver’s license suspensions for drag racers and cause drivers to face losing their vehicles unless the driver’s family would face financial hardship. In that case, the vehicle’s title would have to be transferred to another family member.

Kemp said the increased penalties would help curb a growing crime problem in metro Atlanta and show support for police agencies seeking to crack down on street racing.

“This illegal activity is very dangerous,” Kemp said at a bill-signing ceremony Monday. “Many people have been injured and some tragically have lost their lives. … Our goal is simple: To protect every family in every community.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Josh Bonner, R-Fayetteville, who is one of Kemp’s floor leaders in the state House of Representatives. It cleared both chambers in the General Assembly by wide margins during the 2021 legislative session.

Bonner’s bill faced some pushback from defense attorneys who questioned what difference the tougher penalties would make since local police already have a difficult time arresting drag racers. Opponents also worried someone could have their car confiscated if it was being used by another person for drag racing.

The measure Kemp signed Monday echoed a separate drag-racing bill sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, that did not pass during the session.

Co-sponsoring Bonner’s bill were Reps. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon; Martin Momtahan, R-Dallas; John Corbett, R-Lake Park; and Matt Barton, R-Calhoun.

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