Street racing has become more popular in recent years for many different reasons. People have become enamored by extreme sports or competitions like base jumping, bungee jumping, ultramarathoning, surfing huge waves, storm chasing, and organizing fight clubs.
Street racing is another example of an extreme sport. While street racing can be legal in some circumstances, it is not lawful if unsanctioned. Participants not only experience the thrill of racing at top speeds late at night before cheering crowds in secret locations, but spend countless hours “souping up” their vehicles to engage in these events.
People engage in illegal street racing for these reasons:
- It’s free
- No regulations on motors or vehicles
- No track officials
- Socializing with friends
- Lack of other recreational activities
- Showing off driving, vehicle and mechanical skills
In Florida, street racing is illegal if drivers are participating in a race or test of endurance on a highway, roadway or parking lot. Those who facilitate the event or collect money from spectators are also criminally liable. But for those who participate, the risks outweigh the penalties, which include the possibility of a year in jail, a year of probation, loss of a driver’s license for one year on a first offense, and multiple years with each subsequent offense.
The Extreme Consequences
Anytime you drive a vehicle at extreme speeds you risk a serious accident. Reaction and judgment times are greatly decreased and a mechanical failure in the brakes or a sudden tire blowout or failure at 100 miles per hours can result in a rollover with devastating results.
Losing control of your vehicle on a road without barriers or walls or encountering an obstacle on the street that would not have been present on a sanctioned track are other reasons why a vehicle can seriously hurt or kill spectators or innocent bystanders.
Still, participants relish the thrill of the race and its illegality only adds to the excitement surrounding these events.
Racing organizations and auto racers understandably condemn the practice, even though a number of NASCAR racers had their start in participating in illegal street racing when younger.
The film industry and the media focus on the glamor and the danger of street racing, though a fatality on screen hardly creates a disincentive for people to continue the practice.
San Diego at least has tried to address the growing popularity of the sport by opening up Qualcomm stadium where the San Diego Padres play. The city has implemented a program to get young people off the streets and into a safer and more controlled environment where racers can compete in sanctioned events and display their driving, vehicles and mechanical abilities.
Other municipalities could emulate San Diego’s program and welcome street racers to a safer venue where they can still show off their skills while engaging in feats of extreme speed and endurance, and do so legally.
If you have any questions about any legal issue surrounding street racing you should contact a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with defending street racing crimes.