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Council to consider traffic ordinance

January 7, 2013

The Big Spring City Council is expected to hear first reading of a new traffic ordinance that would allow police officers to issue citations to motorists making a “display of acceleration” or a rapid start, leaving a legal middle ground created several years ago when state law changed.
The new ordinance, which would be added to Section 18-78 entitled Racing and Exhibition of Acceleration, would make it unlawful for any person to race or otherwise cause a motor vehicle to make a rapid start or acceleration on a roadway.
According to Big Spring Police Chief Lonnie Smith, the addition of the ordinance will give police officials a middle ground when dealing with motorists — mostly youngsters — simply showing off.
“About three or four years ago the state changed the law surrounding racing on a highway,” Smith said. “Up until then, officers could write a citation if someone was making a rapid start or spinning their tires. However, the change made it a Class B misdemeanor, which meant if an officer wrote that ticket, they would have to arrest the driver.”
The new ordinance would allow officers and other law enforcement officials to be more community-minded when approaching these types of situations, Smith said.
“A lot of these cases are simply kids spinning their tires or otherwise showing off; however, they aren't racing on the highway or other roads,” Smith said. “This will allow officers to address the problem without these 16- and 17-year-old kids ending up with an arrest record when it's really not necessary.”
Smith said the new ordinance is something many West Texas cities are addressing, including several nearby cities.
“Both Midland and San Angelo have passed similar ordinances,” he said. “A lot of Texas cities are addressing the issue.”
While the ordinance will give peace officers something of a middle ground when dealing with these cases, Smith stressed it won't apply to drivers who decide to take it to far.
“For those who are racing, nothing will change. If they get caught, they will be arrested,” Smith said firmly. “That won't change.”
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the council will address:
• Final reading of a resolution authorizing the city to apply for a grant from the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission and Regional Solid Waste Grants Program.
• Approval of a joint election agreement with the Big Spring Independent School District.
• Acceptance of Big Spring Economic Development Corporation board of directors minutes from the meeting held Nov. 20, 2012.
Tuesday's meeting is to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth Street. Fore more information, call 264-2401. A complete copy of the meeting agenda can be found online at www.mybigspring.com

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