Southern California long has been the epicenter for street racing. Romanticized in movies like “Grease” and “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, the reality is not so glamorous.
Roughly 170 people have died in Los Angeles County since 2000 in car collisions where street racing was suspected.
Alisanne Scolnik, deputy-in-charge of the District Attorney’s Santa Clarita Area Office, said traffic safety issues such as reckless driving, speeding and driving under the influence are among the main community concerns addressed by her office’s six prosecutors.
While law enforcement personnel have worked to stop street racers, Scolnik took a novel step recently to show spectators the dangers these races pose.
As part of an undercover operation by the California Highway Patrol, more than 100 people were arrested at a racing event at a Castaic industrial park last year. Seven were booked on felonies linked to racing and performing stunts.
Approximately 80 adults, mostly ages 18 to 21, were cited on the misdemeanor charge of being a spectator at the street-racing event.
Scolnik reviewed each case and decided driver safety education may be the best way to resolve these matters.
She met with CHP officials and they developed an educational program to address street racing, impaired driving and distracted driving. Those cited, and who met specific criteria, went to the Santa Clarita courthouse in December for one of two 90-minute sessions.
Participants avoided criminal charges under the office’s Pre-Filing Diversion Program, which is intended to keep low-level, nonviolent offenders out of the criminal justice system.
“I felt this was a great way for the District Attorney’s Office to address street racing and provide for the safety of the community,” Scolnik said. “We charged the offenders in court who were actively involved in this illegal activity, and we educated those who were passively involved.”