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Once harassed by police, lowriders can cruise across California under a new law

A convertible Lowrider vehicle cruises on Sunset Blvd., in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles late Sunday afternoon July 18, 2021.
Damian Dovarganes
/
AP
A convertible Lowrider vehicle cruises on Sunset Blvd., in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles late Sunday afternoon July 18, 2021.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Friday that lifts the restrictions on lowrider cruising, a cultural and artistic tradition developed by Latinos living in the Golden State.

Assemblymember David Alvarez, who sponsored the legislation, called it a "major win" for Californians.

"On behalf of the thousands of advocates who supported this culturally significant legislation, the low rider communities and car clubs from all over California, I would like to thank the Governor for signing AB 436 into law," Alvarez said in a tweet.

Lowrider culture was developed by Mexican Americans in and around Southern California after World War II. Enthusiasts modified cars to ride lower to the ground and gave them elaborate, colorful paint jobs. Groups of lowriders would drive their vehicles "low and slow" through town, a pastime known as cruising.

Through the years, some police officers harassed the lowriders, who were usually Latino, and broke up cruising events. California state law put limits on how low vehicles could ride, and cities and towns imposed their own cruising bans.

Now Californians have a green light to both ride low and cruise.

The new law lifts the former restriction that prohibited the body of a vehicle from riding closer to ground than the bottom of its rims.

It also rescinds the ability of cities and towns to impose their own cruising bans, which many had in place until recently, including Sacramento and San Jose.

"As we've always said, cruising isn't a crime," Jovita Arellano, president of the United Lowriders Coalition, told CBS8. "We're really happy that the state assembly members, the senators and the governor have embraced our culture that is really important to us."

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Joe Hernandez