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Racing on a Highway

Drivers have been racing motor vehicles for several decades, but law enforcement agencies across the country have taken additional measures to address the increase in illegal street racing incidents in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told CBS News in 2003 that at least 135 people died in accidents from possible races when “The Fast and the Furious”—the American film franchise heavily focused on illegal street racing—was first released in 2001, or almost twice as many as the year before.

Florida introduced its own street racing law in 2002, and the statute that was largely adopted from similar legislation enacted in other states has been routinely challenged for its constitutionality and vagueness. Many innocent people are charged with racing on a highway in Florida for committing alleged acts that are otherwise seemingly legal.

Attorney for Racing on a Highway Arrests in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you were arrested for allegedly racing on a highway in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell aggressively defends clients accused of traffic crimes in Plantation, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, and many surrounding areas of Broward County.

Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who know how to attack state laws relating to illegal racing and fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (954) 765-6585 today to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.

Broward County Racing on a Highway Information Center

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Florida Racing on a Highway Charges

Florida Statute § 316.191(1) provides the following definitions as they relate to the crime of racing on highways:

  • Drag Race — 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.
  • Race — 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. A race may be prearranged or may occur through a competitive response to conduct on the part of one or more drivers which, under the totality of the circumstances, can reasonably be interpreted as a challenge to race.
  • Spectator — Any person who is knowingly present at and views a drag race, when such presence is the result of an affirmative choice to attend or participate in the race. For purposes of determining whether or not an individual is a spectator, finders of fact shall consider the relationship between the racer and the individual, evidence of gambling or betting on the outcome of the race, and any other factor that would tend to show knowing attendance or participation.

Under Florida Statute § 316.191(2), people are prohibited from doing any of the following:

  • Driving any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, in any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, or exhibition of speed or acceleration or for the purpose of making a speed record on any highway, roadway, or parking lot;
  • In any manner participating in, coordinating, facilitating, or collecting moneys at any location for any such race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition;
  • Knowingly riding as a passenger in any such race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition; or
  • Purposefully causing the movement of traffic to slow or stop for any such race, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.

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Racing on a Highway Penalties in Broward County

Violations of Florida Statute § 316.191(2) are all first-degree misdemeanor offenses punishable as follows:

  • First Offense — Fine of up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will also revoke the driver license of an alleged offender for one year.
  • Second Offense Within Five Years of Prior Conviction — Fine of up to $3,000 and/or 12 months in jail. The DHSMV) will also revoke the driver license of the alleged offender for two years.
  • Third or Subsequent Violation Within Five Years of Prior Conviction — Fine of up to $5,000 and/or 12 months in jail. The DHSMV) will also revoke the driver license of the alleged offender for four years.

People are also prohibited from being spectators at any prohibited drag races, and alleged violations are noncriminal traffic infractions punishable as moving violations.

Florida Statute § 316.191(5) also establishes that whenever a law enforcement officer determines that an alleged offender was engaged in a drag race or race, the officer not only can immediately arrest and take such person into custody, but can also have the alleged offender’s vehicle impounded for a period of 30 business days. The trial court can enter an order of impoundment or immobilization as a condition of incarceration or probation.

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Florida Resources for Racing on a Highway Offenses

State v. Wells, 965 So.2d 834 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007) — Jamie Wells was charged with racing on highway under Florida Statute § 316.191 and filed a motion to dismiss challenging the constitutionality of the statute. The trial court granted his motion and found Florida Statute §316.191 unconstitutional on both vagueness and over-breadth grounds. On September 12, 2007, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part, affirming as to vagueness and reversing and remanding as to overbreadth for the trial court to remove the overbreadth findings from its otherwise proper order finding Florida Statute §316.191 unconstitutional both facially and as applied and dismissing the racing on highway charge against Wells.

Florida Senate Bill 768 | 2010 Regular Session — The Florida Senate and House unanimously passed this bill in 2010, an act to be cited as the “Luis Rivera Ortega Street Racing Act,” in remembrance of the 15-year-old bicyclist killed by a man who was racing on a road in Central Florida when he lost control of his car and struck the teenager. The bill amended Florida’s street racing statute by increasing certain fines and driver’s license suspensions for violators. On this website, you can view the bill’s vote and text history.

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Meltzer & Bell | Fort Lauderdale Racing on a Highway Defense Lawyer

Were you recently arrested for allegedly racing on a highway in Broward County? Do not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation. Contact Meltzer & Bell as soon as possible.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell represent individuals in communities all over South Florida, including Wilton Manors, Weston, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate, and several others. You can have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call (954) 765-6585 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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