New Law With Stricter Punishments for Sideshow Participants

Assembly Bill 3 Signed Into Law

A new California law, known as Assembly Bill 3, was recently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The law will impose harsher punishments for sideshow participants.

Bill Provides Legal Definition of a Sideshow 

In addition to outlining harsher punishments for sideshow participants, Assembly Bill 3 also provides the first legal definition of a sideshow within California law. The term is now defined as an event involving two or more vehicles that impede or block traffic on a highway in order to perform speed contests, vehicle stunts, or reckless driving, in front of an audience.

Sideshow Participants Face License Suspensions

The governor signed the new law on Thursday, October 8, 2021. It will allow the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for a period of up to six months if they are found guilty of participating in a sideshow. The illegal events have become so pervasive and the phenomenon is so dangerous that sideshows are referred to by some as acts of “street terrorism.” 

New Sideshow Law – Authorship and Intent

The bill was authored by Assemblyman Vince Fong in order to provide an additional deterrent to those who participate in illegal sideshows. The shows are dangerous – they have claimed a number of lives and create a risk in the community, especially among young people. Assemblyman Fong is hoping that this proactive enforcement will help to stop the dangerous events. 

A Stubborn Problem

Despite prior enforcement efforts, the problem of California sideshows continues to grow. The practice is particularly widespread in the Bay Area, but it is prevalent in other areas as well, including the greater Sacramento region. Within the past year, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has responded to more than 25,000 dispatch calls for illegal street stunting and racing activity.

Prior Enforcement Efforts

Police officers throughout the state have tried a number of enforcement tactics and have been aggressively attempting to intercept the stunt events. In an effort to curtail the sideshows, they have issued fines, towed vehicles, and have even arrested some individuals. 

Some Bay Area counties, including Vallejo and Fairfield, have enacted city ordinances allowing sideshow spectators to be fined $1,000. 

Watch the YouTube video. The news clip below, posted by ABC10, reports on the new California sideshow law.

Sideshow Participants Rely on a Subculture of Secrecy

Part of the difficulty with enforcing laws against sideshows is that the events move around. They are promoted surreptitiously, so law enforcement does not know in advance where they will take place. In addition to creating noise disturbances for the surrounding neighbors, the events bring dangers involved with cars speeding, doing donuts, and performing other dangerous stunts in the presence of hundreds of spectators that have gathered to watch. A number of events have devolved into skirmishes with police officers, with participants and spectators throwing rocks, bottles, and even fireworks at police. 

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

Hello, and thanks for reading our report on the new California law that could result in license suspensions for sideshow participants. My name is Ed Smith, and I am a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an automobile accident that was caused by a negligent motorist, please call our experienced injury lawyers for assistance. For close to four decades, our firm has advocated on behalf of Sacramento residents who have been hurt in car crashes. We are happy to provide compassionate, free, and friendly advice when you call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

To learn more about our firm, you can view some of our past case results on our verdicts and settlements page. Client reviews are posted on Avvo, Yelp, and Google.

Photo: by Mick Haupt via Unsplash

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