Residents tired of the racing; hundreds of tickets issued - Albuquerque Journal

Residents tired of the racing; hundreds of tickets issued

RACING NOISE KEEPS US UP AT NIGHT: Last summer Linda Collins and “more than 59” of her neighbors who live near Coors NW in the La Luz del Oeste area sent a letter to Mayor Tim Keller, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina and then-City Councilor Lan Sena.

And they wrote “street racing is prevalent in sections of Coors Boulevard NW between St. Joseph Street and Paseo del Norte. Vehicles, including motorcycles, with certain mufflers produce sustained episodes of noise above city limits. Speeding and excessive noise is common between 8 p.m. and midnight. Nighttime noise from Coors Boulevard NW interferes with residents’ activities, including sleeping. The city of Albuquerque has yet to adequately address and minimize this problem.”

That was in July.

APD IS ON IT: In February, APD Motors Unit Lt. Nick Wheeler shared in this column that since the pandemic Coors is known as “the racetrack of Albuquerque” and said the department was cracking down on traffic violations. And spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins says “Coors is certainly on the department’s radar, and the Motors Unit is well aware of the issues regarding speeding and racing along that stretch of road. Coors is not the only corridor where they see this being an issue. Currently, Motors is working with several area commands to tackle the speeding and racing, and they have conducted several operations along Central all the way to Coors.”

One weekend in January “they worked with the Valley Area Command and N.M. State Police along that stretch and handed out 67 citations and made two arrests.”

On another “Motors worked with the SW Area Command, the Valley Area Command and the DWI Section along Central from Eighth to Coors. They specifically were looking for racing, speeding and modified exhaust. In total they handed out 144 traffic citations and made one misdemeanor arrest.”

“Since the operations first began, the department has handed out more than 1,000 citations.”

AND FOLKS HAVE ENDED UP IN COURT: Metro Court’s statistician dived into the racing citations issued under city ordinance 8-2-4-6 in 2021 and found 187 spectating a race/drag race citations and four unlawful drag racing/racing on streets citations.

Watching an illegal street race is a misdemeanor with a fine up to $500 or 90 days in jail.

In the spectating category, a few of the cases are still pending, six resulted in a conviction with a plea, 18 had warrants issued, and dozens were in “deferred” status meaning “the defendant pleaded guilty or no contest to the charge and had to fulfill requirements of the sentence such as court costs and fees, Driver Improvement School, etc.,” according to court spokeswoman Camille Baca. One hundred and eleven were dismissed – dozens classified as “deferred dismissed” presumably meaning the defendant complied with conditions, dozens more as “failure to appear by prosecutor,” and two per a plea agreement. Three of the spectating citations went into pre-adjudication diversion, two were dismissed because the state was not ready for trial, and one had the charges dropped by the prosecutor.

Of the four unlawful racing citations, as of March 21 one was in warrant status and three were dismissed – one by the prosecutor, one because the defendant complied with conditions and one because the prosecutor did not show up.

WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE?: In their letter, Linda and her neighbors suggested:

1. More policing by cameras with fines and warnings. (State law prohibits automated traffic enforcement on state roads, and Coors is officially N.M. 448.)

2. Yearly state motor vehicle inspections. (New Mexico repealed the law requiring annual vehicle inspections in the 1970s because the $1 fee resulted in a cursory-at-best check.)

3. Prohibition and removal of noisy “mufflers.” (The city noise ordinance, 9-9 1-12, limits daytime noise in residential areas to 55 decibels, nighttime to 50 decibels. The city website, cabq.gov, recommends calling APD’s non-emergency number, 242-COPS/2677 to report loud car stereos, mufflers and motorcycles. An officer has to witness a violation to issue a citation for it.)

4. Impoundment of cars of non-ticket payers. (That might be a stretch; the fine in Metropolitan Court for a defective exhaust system is $30; for selling a vehicle that produces noise over 96 decibels, $10.)

Atkins says “the department takes these issues (racing, speeding, loud mufflers) very seriously and is working to combat these challenges throughout the city. The plan is to move the operation around the city in the hopes to change driver behavior.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

 

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