Chariots of Fire:
The Law on Street Racing
Car racing is cool and has been one of the most exciting forms of entertainment and competition since 1895 AD. That is when the first true car race was held from Paris to Bordeaux, France.
And competitive racing goes further back than 1895- back to the days when chariots raced through the amphitheaters of ancient Rome. In fact, people will race just about anything. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, dogs, horses, people and even turtles.
But with racing comes risk (well maybe not the turtle race). And based on history, we all know that there is an inherent hazard associated with racing. It is dangerous (see Ben Hur)! And unsanctioned street racing is not only dangerous, but illegal in the State of Texas.
Texas Transportation Code §545.420 – Racing on Highway:
A person may not participate in any manner in:
(1) a race;
(2) a vehicle speed competition or contest;
(3) a drag race or acceleration contest;
(4) a test of physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle; or
(5) in connection with a drag race, an exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration or to make a vehicle speed record.
(1) “Drag race” means the operation of:
(A) two or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other; or
(B) one or more vehicles over a common selected course, from the same place to the same place, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of the vehicle or vehicles in a specified distance or time.
(2) “Race” means the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to:
(A) outgain or outdistance another vehicle or prevent another vehicle from passing;
(B) arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles; or
(C) test the physical stamina or endurance of an operator over a long-distance driving route.
In short, racing in Texas is illegal.
And speaking of history and legalities, before 2003, street racing in Texas was only considered a simple traffic violation. That all changed with legislation in 2003 that implemented stricter penalties and gave Texas some of the harshest laws for street racing in the country. Including jail time, drivers license suspensions and mandatory community service.
Penalty & Punishment
The first offense of racing on a highway is a Class B misdemeanor.
A second offense of racing is a Class A misdemeanor.
A third conviction for racing is a state jail felony.
Your participation in a street race in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor.
- Racers can face county jail time up to 180 days with a fine up to $2,000, or both.
- Street racers can have their driver’s license suspended for up to one year and may face be placed on probation for up to two years.
- Street racers could face from 2 to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both, if there is seriously bodily injury or death to another party.
- Street racers could face from 2 to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000 or both, if there is bodily injury to another party.
For repeat offenders, the punishment could be much higher and one could make their way on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s all penitentiary team.
Passengers are not exempt merely because they are riding along. They could also be charged with the same offense as the Driver either as a participant or as a party.
Even if you were only watching or attending these events, you could also receive:
-a fine up to $500, driver’s license issues and even have your vehicle towed.
If someone is injured during a street race, then Drivers, Passengers and Spectators all could be subject to civil liabilities and penalties.
If the illegal street race resulted in criminal charges or personal injury or damages to property or a person, a peace officer could impound the vehicle and seize it as evidence. They could even take your vehicle under forfeiture laws.
There are many other criminal or civil statutes, with severe consequences and penalties, for which a street racer may be liable. Criminal mischief, reckless driving, unsafe speed on roadway, causation of injuries, evading arrest and speeding top the list of offenses. You could end up paying thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, your license could be suspended or revoked, or you could spend time in jail or prison.
If any person, whether he or she was involved in the race or just merely a pedestrian walking in the street, suffers bodily injury, a defendant could be charged with a 2nd or 3rd degree felony and see the inside of Huntsville.
Prosecutors in Texas take street racing VERY seriously. So, if you were caught or charged with Racing on a Highway, make sure to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in the matter.