Racing on a Highway

Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing St. Petersburg Residents

There is perhaps no criminal statute that is more confusing and ridiculous than Florida’s racing statute. In an effort to curb illegal street racing akin to the high powered speed contests in movies like “The Fast and the Furious,” Florida’s lawmakers have enacted an anit-street racing law that encompasses an enormous array of conduct. Often, specially trained police officers and troopers station themselves in areas where they believe street racing to be common and make numerous traffic stops and arrests based on facts that may or may not legally constitute racing. If you have found yourself facing criminal charges for racing, you should contact an experienced St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer as early as possible.

Racing Penalties

Some of the harshest aspects of Florida’s racing law are the strict mandatory penalties that go along with a conviction. If you are found guilty of racing, you face a mandatory $1000 fine, which is quite steep for a traffic criminal misdemeanor. Worse, you will be facing a mandatory one year drivers license suspension. Subsequent convictions carry additional sanctions. A second offense within a five year period will result in a $2000 to $3000 fine along with a two year suspension, and a third conviction will result in a $5000 fine with a harsh four year suspension.

The strict and harsh penalties associated with racing cases make it all the more important that you retain a skilled St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer with specialized experience dealing with racing offenses. A lawyer who can build a defense tailored to your case can get your charge reduced to a lesser offense or even a traffic infraction. Racing charges can also be notoriously difficult for the state to prove, and an experienced lawyer can take your case to trial and fight for a dismissal as well.

Racing Elements

When most people think of street racing, they picture high powered, souped up cars racing in front of crowds of people on the street. Florida’s racing statute certainly punishes conduct like this. Some of the prohibited acts under the street racing law include prearranged contests of speed or acceleration. Because street racing like this was popularized and glamorized by several popular movies, legislators went out of their way to attempt to punish everyone involved. Surprisingly, a person can be charged and convicted for racing, and suffer all of the consequences including license suspensions, for simply being a spectator of an illegal street race.

Surprisingly, the racing law does not have any requirement that those charged with the crime reach any specific speed. The law does not even require that the state prove that the defendant or defendants were over the speed limit! The statute simply requires that the state prove that the drivers entered into a preplanned or spontaneous contest of speed. This broad language of the statute unfortunately results in far too much discretion in the hands of police officers. If an officer simply sees two people speeding on the same road, they might be able to arrest both of those drivers for racing. Prosecutors trying these cases have even gone forward on cases where the drivers accused of racing were driving under the speed limit. It is imperative that you retain a skilled St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer to defend you against these overzealous law enforcement officers.

Perhaps the craziest part of the racing statute is the fact that it punishes people who are passengers in the vehicles involved in a race. You can be arrested, charged with a crime and put in jail for simply sitting in the passenger seat of a car while the driver engages in a race. This law seems absurd but people have been charged with this crime and have been forced to defend themselves at trial.

Speak to a Dedicated Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Don’t fall victim to overzealous police and prosecutors. You need a skilled defense lawyer to protect your rights and make sure you understand all of your options. Don’t get railroaded by the state, call the lawyers at Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413

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