Street Racing in Florida: Who Can Be Arrested & Charged?

Street racing is illegal in Florida, and it isn’t just the drivers who can be arrested and charged. Passengers, organizers, and anyone else involved in setting up or helping with a street race can face misdemeanor charges and penalties that could include jail time and heavy fines.

§ 316.191 of the 2021 Florida Statutes describes “racing on highways” as driving a motor vehicle in any type of race, competition, or exhibition on any roadway, highway, or parking lot. Most often referred to as street racing, the people who are accused of driving are not the only ones who can face criminal charges under this statute.

In addition to driving, the following are prohibited acts related to street racing:

  • Betting on or collecting money for a street race
  • Knowingly choosing to attend and watch a street race (acting as a spectator)
  • Slowing or stopping traffic so a street race can occur
  • Coordinating or organizing a street race
  • Being a willing passenger in a vehicle involved in a street race

Street Racing Arrests & Impoundments in Florida

When law enforcement officers have probable cause that a person has committed a street racing violation, they can make an arrest without a warrant. They can also impound a vehicle that is used for street racing, and the owner of the vehicle will be responsible for paying all fees related to towing and impounding the vehicle before it can be released. Impoundment may last up to 30 days.

Penalties for Street Racing

Driving in, participating in, betting on, or organizing a street race is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 to $1,000, 1-year driver’s license revocation, and up to 1 year in jail. The same penalties apply to passengers. Spectators may face noncriminal infractions, similar to moving violations, for knowingly watching a street race.

Enhanced penalties will apply for repeat offenders:

  • A second street racing violation within 5 years is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $3,000, 2-year driver’s license revocation, and up to 1 year in jail.
  • A third or subsequent street racing violation within 5 years is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $2,000 to $5,000, 4-year license revocation, and up to 1 year in jail.

If someone is injured or killed in a street race, whether the person was a participant or a bystander, felony charges may apply. Vehicular manslaughter, for example, is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Our Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Here to Help

If your vehicle has been impounded and you were arrested for street racing, you need a tough defense attorney to protect your interests. At Thomas & Paulk, we can help clients deal with license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and criminal proceedings related to street racing charges. Our Tampa criminal defense attorneys have represented thousands of clients, protecting their constitutional rights and reaching successful case outcomes on their behalf to preserve their freedom. To find out how we can help you, contact us online or call (813) 321-7323.

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