Albuquerque eyes spike in drag racing during pandemic

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials in New Mexico’s largest city are planning a crackdown on illegal street racing and other disruptive driving that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic and say they’ll seek new regulations to help them. It’s just one of many safety concerns as state health officials on Wednesday reported a record-setting 40 virus-related deaths across New Mexico.

Interim Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said Wednesday during a telephone town hall event that the city is expanding late-night patrols in response to reckless driving including racing and will lobby state lawmakers for stiffer penalties for repeat offenders on par with sanctions for driving while intoxicated.

He described a rash of complaints about drag racing, loud mufflers and tire-squealing maneuvers. “These individuals literally will go into an area and they will burn out their tires nonstop,” he said.

In the early months of the pandemic, several states reported an increase in citations from driving far over the speed limit. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller believes the speedway phenomenon extends to many communities nationwide. “This is happening all over the country, and it’s because of COVID,” Keller said.

Separately, New Mexico’s courts are expanding an online system for resolving financial disputes between landlords and tenants, starting Dec. 14. District Court Judge Jane Levy helped develop the upgrade and said it allows people to receive text or email updates on dispute negotiations by smart phone, tablet or computer. The state Supreme Court has suspended evictions for residents who prove that they are unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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