“Street Racing:” What to Know Under Florida State Law
Under Florida State law, “Racing on Highways” occurs when a defendant competitively drives a vehicle in a speed or acceleration contest, or engages in drag racing, or participates as a passenger or race facilitator. The offense carries penalties of up to 1 year in jail and a driver’s license revocation.
The offense of Racing on Highways, or “Street Racing,” is defined in Section 316.191 of the Florida Statutes. Under the law, “Racing” potentially includes four categories of conduct:
- Racing, Competitions, and Exhibitions: defined as driving any vehicle in any race, speed competition, speed contest, drag race, acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, speed exhibition, acceleration exhibition, or driving for the purpose of making a speed record on any highway, roadway, or parking lot;
- Coordination and Facilitation: participating in, coordinating, facilitating, or collecting moneys at any location for any race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition;
- Passenger Participation: knowingly riding as a passenger in a race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition; and
- Traffic Interference: purposefully causing the movement of traffic to slow or stop for any race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.
Definition of “Drag Race”
“Drag Race” is defined as the operation of two or more motor 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 or motor vehicles within a certain distance or time limit.
Necessary Conditions to Prove “Street Racing”
To prove the crime of Racing on Highways at trial, the State must establish that the defendant:
- 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, a 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.
Florida State law classifies Racing on Highways as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail. In addition to possible incarceration, a plea to the charge of Street Racing will have the following consequences: fines, revocation of license, vehicle impoundment, and the creation of a criminal record.
The possible defenses to Street Racing include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Police officer did not actually witness or fully witness the incident;
- Lack of proof of competition;
- Ordinary traffic infractions mistaken for ‘racing;’
- Careless driving or other non-criminal traffic maneuvers (i.e. passing, accelerating, changing lanes);
- Actual speed of the vehicle(s) is not consistent with an allegation of ‘racing.’
- Lack of proof as to the defendant’s intent;
- Intent to race on part of the other driver, but not the defendant;
- Lack of proof that more than 1 vehicle was involved in the alleged ‘competition;’
- Alleged conduct not encompassed by the statutory definition of ‘race.’
Why You Should Contact an Attorney
There are many nuances of a Street Racing case to consider before moving forward. My experience as an Assistant State Attorney has exposed me to numerous types of these cases and their commonality lies in their differences. Given the numerous defenses available to contest these charges, an attorney is a vital asset for avoiding a conviction.
If you have question about your Street Racing case please call my office at 407-415-9626 or email me at Jeremiah@JeremiahDAllen.com.