In Florida, common highway driving practices such as speeding can be mistaken for illegal racing. A charge for racing on the highway is typically a first-degree misdemeanor charge. A race occurs when drivers compete in a speeding or acceleration challenge. Drag racing also falls under general racing charges. Even if you are allegedly involved as a passenger or enabler of a race, or you allegedly placed money on it, you can face criminal charges for this offense instead of (and possibly, in addition to) a traffic citation.
How Florida Defines “Racing on Highways”
This offense, often known simply as “street racing,” is defined by Section 316.191 of the Florida Statutes. A “race” defined by the statute means the use of one or more motor vehicles in competition, arising from a challenge to demonstrate superiority of a motor vehicle or driver and the acceptance or competitive response to that challenge…in which the competitor attempts to–
- Outdistance another vehicle
- Prevent another motor vehicle from passing
- Arrive at a given destination ahead of another motor vehicle or vehicles
- Test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes.”
A “drag race” is defined by the statute as the operation of “two or more vehicles, from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other, or the operation of one or more motor vehicles over a common selected course, from the same point to the same point, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of such motor vehicle(s) within a certain distance or time limit.”
The statute cannot be applied in situations in which vehicles are not actually competing with each other. Speeding is common on Florida highways, and it may be difficult for a law enforcement officer to be sure that vehicles are engaged in a race. To prove racing the prosecution must show that the people involved had agreed to a competition.
Racing Penalties in Florida
Racing is a first-degree misdemeanor offense. A first-degree misdemeanor crime incurs the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Up to 1 year of probation
- All of the above are possible
Additionally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must revoke the driving privileges of any offender for a minimum of one year upon conviction. The police officer who arrested you can also have your vehicle impounded for thirty (30) days.
Contact a Racing Defense Lawyer Today
There are several defenses for racing on the highway. A competent attorney will be able to evaluate all the facts of your case to bring forth the best possible defense. A tough criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach is your best chance at making a strong case and ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years throughout Palm Beach County and is determined to stand up for your rights. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation.