racing on highway criminal defense

Racing on the Highway

  • Florida street racing was a civil traffic ticket up until 2002.
  • The law criminalizing street racing requires minimum mandatory penalties.
  • One of those penalties is a one year driver’s license suspension.
  • There are defenses to Racing.
  • First offense legal fee is $3,000.

Florida Street Racing

As written the crime of Racing on the Highway (section 316.191, Fla. Stat.) means the driving of any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, in:

  • any race;
    • in which the competitor attempts to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle (called passing another vehicle),
    • to prevent another motor vehicle from passing (actually a civil infraction),
    • to arrive at a given destination ahead of another motor vehicle or motor vehicles (??), or
    • to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes (truck drivers?).
  • speed competition or contest (undefined);
  • drag race or acceleration contest (defined);
  • test of physical endurance (undefined);
  • exhibition of speed or acceleration (undefined);
  • or for the purpose of making a speed record (undefined);

… on any highway, roadway, or parking lot within the state of Florida. In addition you cannot in any manner:

  • participate in;
  • coordinate;
  • facilitate;
  • or collect moneys;

… at any location for any such race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition. Nor can you knowingly:

  • ride as a passenger;
  • purposefully cause the movement of traffic to slow or stop;

… for any such race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.

The Obvious Drag Race

It you happen to be out late one night on an empty street where a crowd has come together so that you can line your car up, side by side, and race another car when someone says “go,” …well that’s pretty obviously a drag race. Usually, law enforcement has someone watching, identifying the car and driver and the report reads pretty much like something from the NHRA. This is not good.

The Less Obvious Street Race

On the other hand,… two cars driving fast (what do we call that? Oh, right – speeding) or a car that takes off fast from a stop light may get you arrested for racing but proving it becomes a little more arduous.

Write Down What Happened

So if you have been accused of street racing it is very important to remember what occurred before, during, and after you were stopped, particularly what was said. Take the time to try and write down what you remember happened and what was said – what was asked, your reply, any conversation with the police. Write this down as soon after the stop as possible.

Behavior Confused With Racing

Let’s look at some common reasons people are charged with Florida street racing when they weren’t racing. You are not racing if you were only doing the following things:

  • Speeding.
  • Accelerating fast from a stop.
  • Accelerating fast from a prior speed.
  • Aggressively passing another vehicle.
  • Screeching your tires.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic.

Penalties If Found Guilty For Racing On Highway

Florida street racing carries with it the following penalties only if you enter a plea of guilty or no-contest or have been found guilty after a trial:

  • It is always a first degree misdemeanor.
    • Up to 1-year in jail.
    • Up to 1-year probation.
    • Up to $1,000.00 fine (unless specified by statute).
  • First offense requires a $500 to $1,000 fine.
  • The Department [DMV] is required to suspend your license for 1-year on the first conviction.
  • Multiple convictions for Racing carry progressively harsher penalties and longer suspensions.

For More Information

Additional Information:
Street Racing: The Discrepancies between statute and jury instructions.
Criminal Case resolutions.

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