I wasn't street racing, my foot is just made of lead.
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
How many times have you been in a situation where you are at a stop light in the first spot and you get distracted? Maybe you're looking down at your phone reading the news, scrolling through social media, or swiping left or right? What happens when the car behind you honks or out of the corner of your eye you see the light is green but don't know when it changed? I'll tell you what happens, you accelerate quickly because you're startled. If you're a nice person then you may feel badly that you were slowing down traffic so you drive even faster.
Now it's not illegal to accelerate quickly from a stop light as long as you don't exceed the speed limit once you get going. But some people get into trouble when two cars next to each other jump off of the blocks when a red light turns green. Many law enforcement officers have made the mistake in thinking that those two cars are street racing which is a crime. Realistically when you get pulled over, you should not say anything and just give the officer your driver's license. They will often ask where you're headed, do you know how fast you were going, where are you coming from and you should not answer those questions. If they happen to say you were racing, you probably won't be hurting yourself by saying that you weren't racing but don't say anything else. Otherwise, you are most likely not going to explain your way out of the situation, whether you get arrested or are issued a Notice to Appear. Everything you say can be used against you (and is often recorded on video) so don't say anything.
The State has to prove that you were intentionally participating in a street race (i.e. drag race) specifically defined by F.S. 316.191:
“Drag race” means the operation of two or more motor vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other, or the operation of one or more motor vehicles over a common selected course, from the same point to the same point, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of such motor vehicle or motor vehicles within a certain distance or time limit.
“Race” means the use of one or more motor vehicles in competition, arising from a challenge to demonstrate superiority of a motor vehicle or driver and the acceptance or competitive response to that challenge, either through a prior arrangement or in immediate response, in which the competitor attempts to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle, to prevent another motor vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another motor vehicle or motor vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes. A 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.
You see, it must be proven by the State that there was a challenge to race and that challenge was accepted. The race can be prearranged or on the fly. It can be from a stop in a straight line or any route from Point-A to Point-B. It can be a short distance or all over the State of Florida. They also have to prove the purpose was to compare speeds or acceleration within a specific distance or time limit. If two or more cars are just driving crazy fast and reckless just for fun, then that isn't street racing (although it is another crime). So although there may be nothing for you to do to prevent the law enforcement officer from arresting you, this charge is actually very difficult for the prosecutor to prove. Two cars just driving fast next to one another doesn't get it done. All of the facts are important for both the State and Defense. What kind of cars were they? Did the two driver's look at each other or say anything to each other? How fast were they going? What was the speed limit? What distance to they appear to be racing? Did the driving pattern tend to prove a conscious competition? Were other cars involved to limit traffic interference?
One last thing, not only can you not drive in a street race in Florida, but you can't be a passenger, coordinate, facilitate, participate in or collect money for a drag race, those are also crimes. In fact, you can even get an infraction ticket (a moving violation) if you just watch a drag race! Never fear, you are innocent until proven guilty so hire a lawyer and fight for your freedom.
A criminal accusation is a complicated situation that can be made easier by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. Seth Hyman Law ( https://www.sethhymanlaw.com ) exclusively provides legal assistance in criminal, DUI, and driving offense cases throughout Central Florida. Call 407-274-7501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.