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June 09, 2023

To deter illegal street racing, Philly should impose $2,000 fines and seize vehicles, councilmember says

Mike Driscoll introduced legislation to penalize drivers who participate in unsanctioned car meets. It comes after Anthony Allegrini Jr. was shot by state police as authorities tried to break up an event on I-95 last weekend

Government Racing
Street Racing Bill Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

To curb illegal car meets, Philadelphia would impose $2,000 fines on illegal street racers and seize their cars suspected under a proposal introduced in City Council on Thursday.

Any driver caught engaging in illegal street racing in Philadelphia would face fines under a new bill introduced in City Council in the wake of the deadly car meet held on I-95 last weekend. 

City Councilmember Mike Driscoll introduced the measure during Thursday's meeting as a way to prevent drivers from drifting and doing doughnuts or spin-outs in the city. If passed, the bill would impose a $2,000 fines on drivers caught violating the law on highways and city streets, and at recreation centers or private parking lots without the owner's consent. 

Police also would be able to seize a vehicle if they believed the driver was engaging in illegal street racing; officers would store the vehicle until a court hearing addressed the matter. The vehicles of drivers found guilty of engaging in illegal street activities would be disposed. 

The legislation also would add the term "drifting" to the city's traffic code, defining it as any intentional act of steering a vehicle in a circle where the rear wheels lose traction and skid sideways. It also covers doughnuts and spin-outs. Driscoll had been working on the legislation before the car meet, but he told Fox29 that the event led him to introduce it earlier than expected. 

"We need to address all illegal street vehicle activities that are an inherent danger to the general public," Driscoll told NBC Philadelphia. "Providing for public safety must be our top priority at all times. Focusing on those who partake in 'drifting' on our city streets is not the final solution, but it is a tool we can utilize to deter the activity from happening. We want individuals to think twice about engaging in illegal street activities when they could be facing a $2,000 fine per violation or the seizure of their vehicle." 

Anthony Allegrini Jr., an 18-year-old from Glen Mills, was fatally shot by a Pennsylvania state trooper after he allegedly struck two troopers with his car during the large car meet on I-95 early Sunday morning. The shooting happened after authorities had responded to reports of cars drag racing and doing burnouts in the Penn's Landing area. 

When state troopers arrived at the scene, Allegrini and three others got into a black Audi S4 that was parked along the shoulder of the highway, and the car's license plate was completely obscured, police said. Two troopers positioned their vehicle in front of the car and got out to approach Allegrini. Allegrini allegedly failed to follow an order to stay put, and the Audi struck the troopers, who sustained minor injuries. 

One of the troopers fired into the car through its windshield, investigators said. Allegrini, a senior at Interboro High School in Prospect Park, was pronounced dead at the scene. It remains unclear where Allegrini was struck, though Pennsylvania State Police officials said they are confident only one shot was fired into the car. 

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has opened an independent investigation into the shooting. During a Monday news conference, District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office will do "whatever we can to get the truth." 

Allegrini was near a state police vehicle when an ambulance was called, police said. Investigators did not say how and when he got outside of the car before he died, and did not confirm whether state troopers attempted to render aid.

Allegrini's girlfriend, Reagan Hocking, told NBC Philadelphia that she believes Allegrini may have been shot outside of his vehicle. She referenced one video on social media, but its authenticity has not been verified. 

"It's hard to put a whole story together off a glimpse of video," Capt. Gerard B. McShea, commanding officer of Pennsylvania State Police Troop K, said during Monday's news conference. "You will not know the whole story if you see something after it occurred, before it occurred — you know, it's putting the pieces together. And as an agency, as we investigate this, that's what we're doing. We're collecting everything so we have a clear picture of what occurred." 

Councilmembers Mark Squilla and Katherine Gilmore Richardson have stated their support for Driscoll's legislation, which will head to committee for further deliberations and a vote.