OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Washington Blvd. in Ogden is commonly referred to as “The Vard.” On weekends, many people cruise “The Vard” for fun but this summer, the Ogden City Police Department is cracking down on people who choose to race rather than cruise.
Washington Blvd. essentially runs the length of South Ogden City, Ogden City and North Ogden City. However, police in Ogden are cracking down on the street racing that takes place on the boulevard within city limits.
“We’ve had an increase in both high injury accidents and critical injury accidents,” Lt. Will Farr with the police department told ABC4. He explained that this is the result of an increase in street racing over the last few years.
“We will continue to enforce racing along the boulevard,” stated Lt. Farr. The police department has increased patrol officers along the boulevard during the weekend.
There are a few things in particular that officers will be looking for while on patrol. In a post to the community, the police department outlined some of their main objectives:
• Did you know that if you travel 105 MPH or greater on any highway in the State of Utah, it is considered reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor? This means a possible fine of up to $1000.00 and up to 6 months in jail. Reckless driving shows a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
• Did you know that speed contests, AKA as “street racing” and exhibition of speed, AKA “burnouts,” are now a Class A misdemeanor? This means a possible fine of up to $2,500.00 and up to a year in jail. Not to mention that your vehicle will be State Tax impounded, which costs $400.00 just to get a State Impound release and whatever towing and yard storage fees apply, normally a few hundred dollars.
• New this year, if you are involved in a speed contest or exhibition of speed, your vehicle may be subject to seizure, which means you lose your car, forever.
“We will continue to have a high level of police activity and presence along out on the boulevard,” Lt. Farr stated. He told ABC4 that increasing patrol along “The Vard,” (like the tradition of cruising along the boulevard) is nothing new. However, the current blitz began this summer and, Farr said, will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Since the release of the official OPD enforcement plan, social media has been exploding with reactions to the increased enforcement. The community seems split in favor and opposition.
One person posted: “This is pretty ridiculous! Sounds like legalized auto theft by an already overstepping government.”
Another reacted: “There have been so many deaths on Utah roads already this year. Hoping to see those numbers not increase. Drive safe!”
Ethan Jerena is the founder of Ogden Midnight Runners. It’s a car-enthusiast group that regularly meets up to cruise “The Vard.”
Jerena told ABC4 that he, like many in Ogden, has mixed feelings about the police department’s decision. He said he has seen reckless drivers while out driving along Washington Blvd. He added: “I think people need to realize that 90 percent of people cruising out there are respectful and just want to have a good time and cruise with friends. But, like in every situation, there’s always that 10 percent or that bad apple that’s going to ruin it for everybody else.”
Jerena told ABC4 that Ogden Midnight Runners hopes to work with the police department to improve the relationship between those who cruise and the officers who patrol the area in hopes of making the plan to increase enforcement in the area positive for all those involved. He said he also hopes the officers will focus their efforts on those who are driving dangerously. He said there may be young kids out cruising with small modifications like lights that are illegal. He said they may not know they can’t have certain lights and hopes that if officers pull those kids over, they will use it as a teaching moment.
Lt. Farr assured ABC4 that this increased patrol is not meant to target those who are just cruising the boulevard to have fun, but rather to focus on those who are creating an unsafe environment on city roads. “We’re really just trying to crack down on some of the unsafe practices that have been happening along Washington Blvd.”