Sideshows remain a persistent and growing problem in California, leaving local authorities to figure out how to best handle idiots briefly taking over roads and intersections for their illegal and highly dumb antics. But we have to ask: Is using California Highway Patrol air and ground units to bust a 21-year-old kid doing donuts at the end of a rural cul-de-sac the best use of resources?
The CHP triumphantly uploaded aerial video of the operation to one of its Facebook pages last week, presenting it as proof the department is cracking down on sideshows, street racing, and general automotive hooliganism. The infrared footage shows a small group of people watching a single car spin in a nice controlled circle in the middle of the night. Honestly, it makes the donut look pretty cool, as any infrared footage of burning rubber tends to do.
After a few minutes, the doomed driver heads back down to the end of the road, only to be swarmed by five patrol cars and arrested while the helicopter crew continues to observe. So for those counting along at home, that’s at least 8 police officers working to catch one 21-year-old doing donuts in as safe a location as you can find. He was breaking the law, of course. But does this really make any sense?
It all went down at the end of Lynch Road, a stub of a street that terminates at the edge of a large park north of San Francisco. It’s way out in the middle of undeveloped land; the closest house is miles away. It’s the exact opposite of the urban areas usually targeted by sideshows, and you can see on the Google Maps satellite view that it bears the skidmarks of many a donut prior.
Does that make it excusable? As much as any victimless crime. Let’s acknowledge that while it’s easy to tell people to save it for the track, the opportunities for many enthusiasts to do so are extremely limited—and that’s doubly true for someone interested in drifting. The bottom line is there was simply no way any innocent drivers could have possibly been endangered or inconvenienced here, making the extreme police response more than a little questionable.
Reaction to the video on Facebook is pretty split, with an equal number backing the driver and the police. But here’s another way to look at it. The incident in question was actually recorded last July, while the driver was finally convicted of “participating in a speed contest” last week, the final punishment being a 30-day license suspension and an $850 fine.
Think of the time and money spent on this, between the police operation and court costs, all to yank one man’s license for a month. Is there any way it was actually worth it?
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