Ohio House moves to crack down on ‘hooning’

Dayton Reps: ‘We need to take our streets back’

Two Dayton-area lawmakers are trying to crack down on an increasingly popular reckless driving phenomenon that shuts down public roadways and irritates local police with a bill that received wide support in Wednesday’s Ohio House session.

On the House floor, cosponsor Rep. Andrea White, R-Kettering, described the scenes she hopes House Bill 56 will help prevent.

“There’s cars blocking the intersection; people are careening in very reckless ways with people hanging out of the hoods of a car, hanging out the windows, screaming (and) videotaping,” White said. “Social media is spurring this takeover of our streets. We’ve got this happening all over the state all over the nation.”

White called hooning an “internet-fueled craze of reckless driving and street takeovers” that has caused injury, terrorized citizens, damaged property and wasted law enforcement resources.

Over the summer and into the fall, packs of riders on ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles took over roadways in the Dayton area, often doing tricks and stunts like wheelies while weaving through traffic.

Videos posted on YouTube show motorbikes in Dayton, Harrison Twp. and Trotwood driving on the wrong side of the street into opposing traffic and on sidewalks and running red lights and stop signs. Other cars and trucks on the roadways had to pull over or come to a dead stop to avoid the groups of riders.

In some parts of Dayton, like Gettysburg Avenue, the city installed speed humps and tables to try to deter motorists from doing what officials have called “automobile circus acts” in the roadways.

HB 56 was influenced and called for by Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald, Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr., both cities’ police departments, and Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward.

Earlier this year, the cities testified that existing Ohio law lacks the fortitude to adequately deter and punish the specific act of hooning.

“They’re tired of their streets being taken over. This is very dangerous,” said Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., who formerly served as Montgomery County sheriff and cosponsored the bill with White.

House Bill 56 would create two new statutory offenses for knowingly participating in stunt driving like burnouts, doughnuts, wheelies and tire-squealing and for blocking the regular flow of traffic for stunt driving or street racing purposes.

Both offenses are first degree misdemeanors with possible driver’s license suspensions from 30 days to three years. The bill also authorizes police to potentially seize the vehicle used to hoon and states that anyone assisting in the incident will also be charged, not just the driver.

Relatedly, the bill also requires police departments to train their officers for vehicle pursuits and increases the penalty for willfully fleeing or eluding a police officer.

The bill passed 83-6 with bipartisan support on Wednesday and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

Follow DDN statehouse reporter Avery Kreemer on X or reach out to him at Avery.Kreemer@coxinc.com or at 614-981-1422.