‘It can be deadly’: Ohio passes anti-hooning bill

Bill spurred by Dayton officials and activists set to become law

The Ohio legislature approved a new criminal offense Wednesday to push back against “hooning,” an increasingly popular form of stunt driving involving public street takeovers that has been a scourge for Dayton officials.

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday and the House voted 91-1 to approve House Bill 56, which aims to prohibit any person from knowingly participating in burnouts, doughnuts, drifting wheelies, or allowing passengers to ride while hanging out of the car on any public road, and prohibits any street takeovers.

The bill now awaits the signature of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Those two new criminal offenses would be backed by a first degree misdemeanor charge and a possible license suspension of a month to three years, along with the addition of six points on the offender’s driving record.

Sen. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, said he hadn’t heard of hooning before the bill landed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.

“It’s happening all across the state of Ohio and creating a very dangerous situation, putting their own lives at risk and certainly others’ lives at risk,” Manning said on the Senate floor before the vote.

Manning noted that he’s generally against raising criminal penalties while attempting to dissuade certain behaviors, but said he thinks it’s “completely justified” for hooning offenses.

President of the Dayton Unit NAACP Derrick Foward told this news outlet that he first became aware of the issue back in 2020 after seeing a hooning incident first-hand.

“Bottom line: it’s not entertainment,” Foward said. “It can be deadly, it’s scaring the mess out of our senior citizens who are driving in the area.”

Foward, who served as president of the Northern Hills Neighborhood Association, said he’s fielded complaints from residents in his neighborhood and has tried to raise the profile of the problem through press events and letters to the city.

In the time since, Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims, Jr., Dayton Police Chief Kamran Azfal, and former Trotwood mayor Mary McDonald have each urged the state to pass H.B. 56, and they’ve been backed by Ohio’s leading prosecuting attorneys association, which told this news organization that new criminal offenses would give prosecutors a much-needed new tool to work with in penalizing hooners.

“Our citizens deserve to be able to go to and from their destinations without fear of a mass number of vehicles surrounding them and overtaking any part of our city,” Foward said.

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Avery Kreemer can be reached at 614-981-1422, on X, via email, or you can drop him a comment/tip with the survey below.

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