In Florida, street racing is a serious offense, punishable by hefty fines, the revocation of the perpetrator’s driver’s license, and the impoundment of his or her vehicle. A conviction for this offense may also be recorded on the driver’s permanent record, which can have far-reaching consequences on his or her ability to obtain employment, housing, and educational opportunities. If you or a loved one has been charged with street racing, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected and defend your rights.
In Florida, there are four categories of conduct that constitute racing, all of which are prohibited:
- Driving any vehicle in any race, speed contest, or drag race;
- Participating in or coordinating a race or competition;
- Knowingly riding as a passenger in a race, competition, or contest; and
- Purposefully causing the movement of traffic to slow or stop for the purpose of holding a race.
Racing is defined as a competition involving the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to:
- Outdistance another car;
- Prevent another vehicle from passing;
- Arrive at a specific destination before another vehicle; or
- Test the drivers’ endurance over long distances.
Races may be prearranged or may occur as the result of a competitive consent to a challenge, either through prior agreement or an immediate response to another driver’s conduct.
A conviction for street racing is punishable as a first degree misdemeanor, which carries the threat of a one year jail sentence and the payment of a $1,000 fine. Additionally, the perpetrator’s driver’s license will be revoked for one year. For subsequent offenses, the offender’s license may be revoked for up to four years.
A person who is deemed to have been engaging in street racing by law enforcement can be immediately arrested. The officer can then impound the driver’s vehicle for up to thirty days if the suspect is the registered owner of the vehicle. Trial courts are also authorized to order that the vehicle be impounded as a condition of probation.
A vehicle used for the purposes of street racing by a person who was convicted within the last five years for that same offense can be seized and forfeited.
There are a variety of defenses available to someone accused of street racing, including:
- Lack of intent;
- Ordinary traffic infraction or careless driving mistaken for unlawful racing;
- Speed inconsistent with a charge of racing;
- Lack of witness testimony;
- The activity took place on an area designated for that purpose by authorities;
- Lack of proof that more than one vehicle was involved; and
- Conduct did not fall within the definition of street racing.
Street racing can have serious consequences, so if you have been charged with street racing, it is vital to obtain the advice of an attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. If you have been arrested for or charged with street racing, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein to schedule a free initial consultation.