What Are the Penalties for Street Racing?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 09, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It seems as though as soon as the car was invented, people were racing cars. We've always wanted to see who's the fastest. The only problem is, racing 4,000-pound automobiles at hundreds of miles per hour on public streets is a bit more dangerous than your average foot race.

That's why many states have enacted specific street racing statutes or allowed for enhanced penalties for racing-related offenses. Here are some of those laws and the penalties for breaking them.

Racing Defined

Each state's traffic code varies, so the law in your particular jurisdiction could be different than the ones highlighted here. For instance, some states consider racing or speed contests as a form of reckless driving, and will simply include classification and penalty enhancements if that recklessness was part of a race.

Here is how three states define street racing in their statutes:

  • Florida: "'Race' 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, either through a prior arrangement or in immediate response, in which the competitor attempts to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle, to prevent another motor vehicle from passing, 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."
  • California: A "motor vehicle speed contest includes a motor vehicle race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device. For purposes of this section, an event in which the time to cover a prescribed route of more than 20 miles is measured, but where the vehicle does not exceed the speed limits, is not a speed contest."
  • Texas: "'Race' means the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to: (A) outgain or outdistance another vehicle or prevent another vehicle from passing; (B) arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles; or (C) test the physical stamina or endurance of an operator over a long-distance driving route."

Racing Penalized

In Florida, street racing is a misdemeanor and a conviction can mean $1,000 in fines and the loss of your license for a year. Under California law, you can be arrested, have your vehicle impounded for 30 days, and be imprisoned for up to three months if convicted of street racing, or aiding or abetting a street race. And a first-time racing conviction in the Lone Star State could mean six months in jail and $2,000 in fines.

Almost all jurisdictions provide for increased penalties if the race results in an accident, injury, or death. So if you've been charged with street racing, contact an experienced attorney today.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard