Flint, MI– The Flint City Council has moved a new ordinance declaring reckless driving a public nuisance closer to final approval–with an amendment.

The original proposed ordinance was for reckless driving in residential areas, but during their committee meeting on May 4, the council voted to change the language to apply the law to the entire city.

The ordinance was first introduced during a council meeting on April 25. Councilwoman Tonya Burns initiated the ordinance and told her colleagues that she did not want to see a child get hurt.

“Kids can’t ride in the street with their bikes now because of individuals that are lawless. … Our communities are for families, not for these lawless individuals who could care less, and have no regard for life,” Burns said at that meeting. 

The proposal would add a section for “Reckless Driving” in Chapter 30 “Nuisances” of the Flint City Code of Ordinances. 

With the “nuisance” title, anyone caught reckless driving will be subject to “enjoinment and abatement as provided under state and local law.”

The ordinance specifically includes language that the city attorney may take the issue to Genesee County Circuit Court and may settle at minimum for an administrative fine of “no less than $900 and all accrued towing and storage charges.” At the last meeting, Police Chief Terence Green said the ordinance would allow for violators’ vehicles to be impounded. 

When the ordinance was first introduced, the council voted to send it back to committee for more work in part because the language only referenced “reckless driving in a residential neighborhood.”

During the committee meeting on May 4, the council voted to change the ordinance by removing the “residential neighborhood” language.

Now, Assistant City Attorney Joanne Gurley said the ordinance applies to the entire city of Flint.

Councilman Quincy Murphy said he wanted to make sure this ordinance applied to parks.  

“I know in my ward over there at Dewey Park, we have reckless driving in the parks. … We did a mural on the basketball courts and they did donuts on the basketball courts, so I’m in the process of redoing the murals,” Murphy said. 

In addition to damaging the murals, Murphy said he was worried that people driving recklessly in the park could hurt a child.

Gurley said that with the new language, the ordinance covers the entire city, including parks. 

“If the park is a city-owned park, then it will cover it,” Gurley said. 

Some council members wanted to add some more specific examples of “reckless driving” to the ordinance.

The resolution document defines “reckless driving” as “operating a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, including but not limited to the use of stunt driving techniques such as figure eights, sliding, drifting, and donuts.”

Murphy asked if “burning rubber” could be considered sliding or if it needed to be added into the ordinance specifically. 

Gurley said she would look into it but believed sliding involves the burning of rubber. 

“So anything that can be considered reckless would fall into this category,” Gurley said. “So the burning of rubber, if it is in the midst of doing something reckless, would apply also.”

Councilwoman Ladel Lewis asked about the inclusion of spinning tires and revving engines, and pointed to an example of a car in her neighborhood spinning their tires at a stop sign. 

“They were just sitting there spinning their tires, creating a big smoke screen,” Lewis said. 

Gurley said that spinning tires may be covered in the language of this ordinance, but if not, it may fit into one of the city’s other nuisance ordinances. As for the engine revving, Gurley said she thought it might fall under the city’s noise ordinance. 

“I think that there’s a variety of ways to get at it,” Gurley said. 

The council voted to send the ordinance to their next regular council meeting for first reading with six yes votes and one abstention. 

Lewis, Murphy, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter, Vice President Allie Herkenroder, and Councilwoman Eva Worthing voted yes. Councilman Eric Mays abstained, and said he wanted a better understanding of the terms “enjoinment” and “abatement.” Burns was not present for the vote, and Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer was not at the meeting.

Once approved for first reading, the council will need to hold a public hearing on the ordinance before it can be finally approved for adoption. 

Amy Diaz

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...

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