Although professional car racing is a popular spectator sport in California and across the nation, street or drag racing on public roads is illegal. California has numerous laws that govern driving on public roads. One such law prohibits drivers from engaging in speed contests or exhibitions of speed while on California streets and highways. Illegal racing and exhibitions of speed pose a threat to others on the road. Given the already dangerous conditions California drivers have to face out on the road everyday, and coupled with the fact that illegal street racing has a growing following which encourages other illegal activity, street racing is heavily prosecuted. So, if you are caught street racing, don't think you can get off easy. California is cracking down on street racing so it is important you understand the consequences of this charge before you defend yourself in court. If you raced another car on a California road, you would be violating California Penal Code § 23109(a), which is punishable by not less than 24 hours and no more than 90 days in a county jail and/or a fine of between $355 and $1,000. The defendant will also face 40 hours of community service and a suspension of their driving privileges for up to six months, with the possibility of a restricted license for essential transportation to and from work. For a second street racing offense in five years, the defendant will face a minimum of four days in jail and up to six months. They will also face a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and a longer license suspension. The penalties will increase substantially if any person was injured, either severely or resulting in permanent disability or impairment, as a result of the racing. If you injure someone as a result of your racing, you will face no less than 30 days and up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine of between $500 and $1,000. On top of the above penalties, those convicted of speed racing may also have to have their vehicle impounded for up to 30 days, at a cost to them, as well as a suspension of their driving privileges. The costs of towing, impoundment, and release can easily reach over $1,000. They will also likely face either increased insurance rates or be dropped from their auto insurance carrier.
Even if you are just a spectator to the race or exhibition of speed, aiding or abetting a speed race is a punishable offense. If you were present at the race or helped prepare for it in any way, for example, if you assisted in blocking the road to traffic, you can be charged. Similarly, if you knowingly were a spectator at a race or exhibition of speed, or during preparations for, you will face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, it must be proven that you knew what you were spectating and you were within 200 feet of where the event or exhibition, or preparations for the event or exhibition, took place. As dozens or even hundreds of spectators have been known to gather at California speed races, it may be hard to say you were an innocent passerby in your defense. In lieu of a criminal charge, you may be issued a citation with a fine and a warning, however this is up to the discretion of the police officer. Police are cracking down on street racing in an attempt to keep California roads safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians and to keep traffic from being hindered. Because of this, it is important you speak with an experienced California driving crime defense attorney if you are facing charges. The criminal courts are unlikely to be lenient when sentencing you so it is crucial you obtain skilled representation in order to have the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.
Have you or a loved one been charged with illegal racing or an exhibition of speed? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in driving crime defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps towards having a strong defense. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and will fight for your rights in court. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.