MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Arrests for reckless driving increased by 21% last year while drag racing arrests were up 140%, Shelby County’s District Attorney told Memphis City Council on Tuesday.
But many of these cases go unprosecuted, District Attorney General Amy Weirich said.
In 2021, there were 790 total arrests and misdemeanor charges for reckless driving, Weirich said. That’s 138 more arrests than in 2020. She also said 72 total arrests and misdemeanor charges were made for drag racing in 2021 with only 30 arrests in 2020.
But only four of those drag racing cases ended in conviction last year, she said, and 115 of the reckless driving cases ended in conviction.
According to Weirich, there are currently over 1,000 pending reckless driving cases and 56 drag racing cases. Her office’s numbers differed slightly from Memphis Police data.
Although the punishment for drag racing was increased up to a year in jail by a change to state law last year, Weirich said charges are often dropped or lowered because of lack of witness testimony or because the evidence can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Weirich said there must be a conviction for drag racing, the offender must be the sole owner of the car and law enforcement must locate the car. She’d like to see vehicle seizure for drag racing strengthened in state law.
Councilman Chase Carlisle said the purpose of the presentation was to give an understanding of the aftermath process of an arrest and citation for drag racing and reckless driving. He also said he wanted the public to know that “it is not just the Memphis Police Department, but a team effort across the board.”