Racing on Highways
In Florida, the criminal charge of “Racing on Highways”, typically involves an accused competitively driving a motor vehicle in a “speed contest”, or “drag racing”. Fla. Stat. § 316.191. However, a passenger in such a racing vehicle, or even a spectator to the race, can also be charged.
A first-time conviction for Racing on Highways carries penalties of up to one-year in jail, a mandatory one-year driver’s license revocation, regardless of whether the sentence is withheld or not, possible vehicle impoundment upon arrest for 30 days, and further impoundment, and possible forfeiture if convicted, and fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1000. For second and subsequent convictions, these penalties increase. Fla. Stat. § 775.082.
The law prohibits four categories of conduct:
- Racing, Competitions, and Exhibitions, which prohibits the driving of any vehicle (including motorcycles) in any race, speed competition, speed contest, drag race, acceleration contest, speed exhibition, acceleration exhibition, or speed record.
- Coordination and Facilitation, which prohibits participating in, coordinating, facilitating, or collecting moneys at any location for any race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition, and includes being a spectator at such an event.
- Passenger Participation, which prohibits a person from knowingly riding as a passenger in a race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.
- Traffic Interference, which prohibits purposefully causing the movement of traffic to slow or stop for any race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.
The law distinguishes a race from a drag race. A “Race” means a competition involving the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to either: (1) outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle; (2) prevent another motor vehicle from passing; (3)arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle; or, (4) test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long distance driving routes.
A “Drag Race” means 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 for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration.
In a prosecution for Racing on Highways, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused either:
- Drove a motor vehicle in;
- Participated, coordinated, facilitated, collected monies at the location of;
- Knowingly rode as a passenger in; or,
- Purposefully caused moving traffic to slow or stop for
A race, drag race, an acceleration contest, a speed competition, a test of physical endurance, a speed exhibition, or an attempt to make a speed record on a highway, road, or parking lot.
Where the charge stems from the accused’s driving, Florida’s ‘Racing on Highways’ statute cannot be applied unless the vehicles are competing with each other.
There are many legal defenses to a Racing on Highways charge, including, but not limited to, the lack of a competition or careless driving being mistaken as racing. If you are charged with Racing on Highways, given the consequences, you should contact a capable criminal defense lawyer. Call Michael for a free consultation.