Florida has very strict laws against street racing, also commonly referred to as highway racing. First, it is important to know that street racing is a misdemeanor criminal traffic offense in Florida (much like DUI) that requires a mandatory court appearance. If convicted of street racing, you will have a criminal record. This is important to know because many drivers plead guilty and are unaware of the harsh penalties they are facing as a result.
- Under Florida Statute 316.191, a person who is convicted of street racing faces a fine of $500 to $1000 and a MANDATORY two (2) year drivers license suspension. You may also face up to one year in jail.
- If you have a previous conviction within the last five (5) years, you will face an increased fine of $1000 to $3000 and a MANDATORY two (2) year license suspension. You may also face up to one year in jail.
- A person who is convicted of a third or subsequent offense shall face a $2000 to $5000 fine and a MANDATORY four (4) year suspension of his or her license. You may also face up to one year in jail.
What must the State prove to obtain a conviction for Street Racing against me?
A "race" is defined as one or more vehicles in competition arising from a challenge to demonstrate superiority of a vehicle and the acceptance and/or competitive response to that challenge. You may also be charged if you organize the race, are a passenger in a race, or are a spectator at a race.
Remember, the State must prove the charge against you "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is a very strict legal burden. Just becuase you were "caught" does not mean that the State will be able to obtain a conviction.
So what can you do to avoid a license suspension, criminal conviction, and other penalties?
If you are cited or arrested for highway racing, call an attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will review your case and see if the State will be able to prove the charges you are facing. Alternatively, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea deal whereby you avoid any license suspension or jail time. The important piece of advice to take away from this article is NOT to plea guilty at your arraignment. Plea not guilty and ask the Judge for time to hire an attorney.