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Proposed fine could be used against street racers, says Seattle's Belltown Hellcat owner

David Kroman, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE — A new bill before the Seattle City Council would allow police to write a $500 ticket to the owner of any car being used in illegal street racing — even if someone else is behind the wheel.

The new citation is part of a larger bill, submitted by Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison this week, that brings Seattle in line with new state-level rules regulating street racing. The Washington Legislature last year expanded the definition of illegal street racing to include the takeover of intersections, dangerous displays (such as "donuts"), and racing in off-street areas like parking lots.

By adding the $500 citation, however, Seattle goes further than the state — and possibly gives the city another tool to go after the now-infamous "Belltown Hellcat" driver, who's made international headlines for flaunting his Dodge Charger on Seattle's streets and Instagram.

The motive for the proposed new citation, said Deputy City Attorney Scott Lindsay, is to help police crackdown on large street racing events, which are relatively common, especially in the summer months.

"This legislation responds to the recent rise in large street racing takeover events that pose a safety hazard to the public — pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers," Davison said. "The new civil infraction will give police a tool to hold vehicle owners accountable when their cars are used at these events."

City Hall has tried to wrap its arms around illegal street racing in recent years. The events, which can quickly swell to nearly 100 cars, pop up around the city — including recently in Wallingford, West Seattle, Lower Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and Rainier Valley. They're loud, disruptive and, as occurred last summer in Auburn, occasionally deadly.

The city last year signed off on installing new traffic cameras in areas around the city to help crack down on illegal street racing. But individual officers are limited in what they can do to break up the events as they happen.

Under current law, officers must identify and try to arrest the person driving the car in an illegal street race. That's difficult when a single patrol vehicle is dispatched to events with a large number of cars and people.

If passed, the new law would allow officers to write down license plate numbers and other identifying features and cite the cars' owners — similar to how parking tickets or tolls are issued now.


While the so-called Hellcat driver, Miles Hudson, was not the motivator for the new law, it could be used against him. Hudson has gained internet infamy by speeding his noisy — and leopard-print — sport car down Seattle's streets.

Hudson, 20, was charged in March with two counts of reckless driving stemming from a video posted in February that showed a driver racing at speeds up to 107 mph in an area where the limit is 25 mph. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

In May, he was sued by the city of Seattle and ordered to comply with the requirements of various traffic and city citations he's received over several months. The Seattle city attorney later filed a court order demanding he pay $83,619.97 in civil penalties and other fees after he failed to respond to the lawsuit in time.

He was ordered to not drive the Hellcat, but in several videos posted on Instagram, where he has 759,000 followers, he's seen in the passenger seat while others drive his car.

If passed, the new law would mean officers could write tickets to Hudson even as a passenger. Both he and his mother are listed as owners, according to the lawsuit.

Councilmember Bob Kettle is sponsoring the bill.


(Seattle Times reporter Paige Cornwell contributed to this story.)

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