CHP believes sideshow drivers not from Oakland

January 31, 2013 6:37:34 PM PST
The California Highway Patrol continues its efforts to track down the drivers involved in last weekend's freeway spectacle on Interstate 880 in Oakland. It was a very dangerous situation but how serious will the charges be once the drivers are arrested?

At this point, the CHP thinks the drivers and cars, for the most part, came from outside of Oakland and though the cars seem easy to identify, it may be more difficult to figure out identify who exactly was driving at the time. It may also be difficult to determine what charges they face.

All those drivers put at risk and stuck in the massive traffic jam created by Saturday's bold sideshow on Interstate 880 were clearly upset. "They're just like taking over the freeway and I don't know what they're doing, but whatever it is, it's not safe and it's not okay," a caller told a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Members of the public were appalled. "I think it was terrible and I think they should be punished for it," one woman said. And, the California Highway Patrol was furious. "It just can't happen again," CHP Sgt. Diana McDermott said.

However, California law is rather light when it comes to punishing those who participate in sideshows unless someone is hurt or killed. "There's no point in rushing this. You might as well get all the evidence," Bob Davis said. He is a former lieutenant and inspector with the San Francisco Police Department. "The most obvious charges are the misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and exhibition of speed. I'm sure the charge that they would want to be considering is conspiracy, which is a felony," he told ABC7 News.

There have been attempts at both the state and local level to put more teeth into the law when it comes to sideshows, but most have failed. In 2005, the Oakland City Council balked at passing an ordinance pushed by then Mayor Jerry Brown that would require the seizure of vehicles from those who participate.

Family, parents, everybody needs to get involved. It's not necessarily just the highway patrol. You need to speak out. You need to tell these people it's not OK," McDermott said.

There is also a state law that allows for the seizure of a vehicle involved in an illegal exhibition of speed. That may very well come into play in this case.


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