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New Criminal Charges of "racing" under Florida Statute 316.191

posted Aug 31, 2010, 5:40 AM by Elisa Myer   [ updated Aug 31, 2010, 6:24 AM ]

Street Racing on Florida Highways

Misdemeanor criminal charge of "racing" under Florida Statute 316.191

The criminal charge of "racing" under Florida Statute 316.191 (also known as "racing on highways" or "street racing").

Street racing can involve cars, motorcycles or other motor vehicles. This criminal charge is extremely serious because it can lead to a suspension of your driver's license and a dramatic increase in your insurance premiums.

Be aware that the Florida street racing on highways statute was once extremely vague and was once often difficult for the prosecutor to prove.  Times have changed! 


This act is to be cited as the    “Luis Rivera Ortega Street Racing Act.”

This bill substantially amends section 316.191, of the Florida Statutes.

The bill  toughens penalties for those who violate the street racing law. If a second offense is committed within five years, the fine increases from between $500 and $1,000 to between $1,000 and $3,000.

It also adds a third violation fine of between $2,000 and $5,000. A third violation also would be penalized by a license revocation of four years.


Automatic One Year Driver's License Suspension for First Offense of Racing in Florida

Under the statute for racing, you will be convicted of the offense regardless of whether you enter a plea of guilty or "no contest." Additionally, you will be "convicted" of the offense even if the court agrees to "withhold adjudication." The fact that you are convicted means that the Court must impose a one year suspension of your driver's license.

Consequences, Penalties, and Punishment for Racing under Florida Law

First Offense of Racing - First Degree Misdemeanor

If you are the driver or a passenger in a vehicle that is "racing" then you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by up to twelve months in jail and a fine of $1,000.00-$3,000.00  dollars. The court can order a period of immoundment or immobilization of the driver's vehicle.
Second Offense of Racing - Second Degree Misdemeanor
If you get cited again for racing within 5 years of a prior conviction for racing, then you will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of more than $1,000.00. to
3,000.00
The court can order a period of immoundment or immobilization of the driver's vehicle. However, for the second offense, the department of motor vehicles shall revoke your driver's license for two years.
For a Second Offense Law Enforcement Can Seize Your Vehicle

If you get cited again for racing within 5 years of a prior conviction for racing, then a law enforcement agent may seize and attempt to forfeit your vehicle under the Contraband Forfeiture Act in Florida, assuming you are in a vehicle that you own.

Any person who commits a third or subsequent violation

     of subsection (2) within 5 years after the date of a prior
     violation that resulted in a conviction for a violation of
     subsection (2) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree,
     punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and shall
     pay a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000. The
     department shall also revoke the driver license of that person
     for 4 years. A hearing may be requested pursuant to s. 322.271.

Illegal Street Drag Race under Florida Law

The term "drag race" is generally defined under Florida law as the operation of vehicles that start out side by side and then accelerate rapidly in a competitive attempt out distance each other or to beat the other vehicle to a certain designed end point or finish line. The statute references may seem very vague terms such as "comparing the relative speeds" or comparing the "power of acceleration" within a time limit or certain distance but your witnesses will be there to testify. Citizens are watching.

Street Race on Florida Highways as Defined Under Florida Law

The definition for the term "race" was once equally vague. The statute refers to terms like "challenge to demonstrate superiority of a motor vehicle" or "competitive response to a challenge." The statute also refers to attempts to "outdistance" or "outgain" another vehicle. Other legal terms under the statute refer to tests of "physical stamina" or endurance over long distance driving routes.

The statute refers to a subjective standard when determining whether an individual is guilty of the offense. Consider the last line of the definition of racing which states:

A [street] 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.

Spectators to Illegal Street Racing or Drag Racing Events in Florida

Florida law even criminalizes any person who is present at a street race or drag racing event. Although the prosecutor must prove that the "spectator" knowing attended the street race as a result of an "affirmative choice." In determining whether the spectator attended the race knowingly, the prosecutor may attempt to show the following:

  1. The relationship between the street racers and the spectators;
  2. Evidence of betting or gambling on the outcome of the street race;
  3. Other factors which indicate the spectator knew that a street race was taking place.

Elements of the Offense

The statute penalizes the following individuals who allegedly participate in the alleged street racing or drag racing incident:

  1. The driver of the car, motorcyle or other motor vehicle;
  2. Any spectator;
  3. Anyone who facilitates, collects money, bets, coordinates, or otherwise participates in the street race or drag race;
  4. Anyone who "knowingly" rides as a passenger in such a race.
  5. Anyone who purposefully disrupts or redirects traffic to assist the street racers.

Summary:

This bill amends Florida’s street racing statute by increasing certain fines and penalties and
driver’s license suspensions for violators. For a second conviction of the statute within five
years, the bill increases the amount of fine a violator must pay to not less than $1,000 and not
more than $3,000. Additionally, the bill adds a first-degree misdemeanor offense if a person is
convicted of an unlawful racing violation a third time in a five year period, provides for a fine of
not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000, and provides that the violator’s driver’s license
must be revoked for four years.

This act is to be cited as the “Luis Rivera Ortega Street Racing Act.”

This bill substantially amends section 316.191, of the Florida Statutes.
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