What is A Speed Contest?

What is a Speed Contest?

Otherwise known as drag racing or street racing, a speed contest is an exhibition of speed between two or more cars or against a clock on a public street. A speed contest may result from an organized event or it may result when two cars engage in a spontaneous race on a public street. In many states, local governments have enacted laws that prohibit speed contests.

It is illegal to engage in a speed contest against another motor vehicle or against a clock or timing device. In order to be convicted of engaging in a speed contest, one does not have to be the actual driver of the vehicle – it is quite possible to be cited for simply observing a speed contest. It is illegal to participate in speed contest in any manner

Why is it Illegal?

Planned, legal speed contests on private raceways are not at issue under this section. In order for a speed contest to be legal, the event must comply with specific safety requirements and be approved of by various local and state authorities. Speed contests that take place on public streets are extremely dangerous and frequently result in crashes, injuries and/or death to participants, spectators or innocent victims.

  • Illegal speed contests usually involve amateur drivers who accelerate quickly and often cannot stop their cars, resulting in crashes, accidents, injuries and death.
  • Speed contests often attract hundreds of spectators who can be potentially injured and who block traffic and emergency vehicles
  • At speed contests, illegal gambling and other illegal activities often occur

Speed Contest Illegal Under California Code – Two Cars or Two Spectators Required:

Under California Code Section 23109(a), a speed contest is any “contest or event where a vehicle is raced on a public street or highway against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device.” There must be at least two vehicles or two spectators present at the event. Additionally, according to this Code, the vehicle must exceed the speed limit in order to violate the speed contest law.

What is a Spectator of a Speed Contest?

A spectator is anyone who is present at a speed contest or at a location where preparations for a speed contest are occurring. In Riverside, Ca., a spectator is anyone who is involved in the event by:

  • Viewing, observing watching or witnessing
  • These are terms that are used to prove the presence of the spectator

Penalties for Speed Contest Violation

Penalties vary according to state and local laws. In California, the speed contest violator will be cited with either an infraction for a first or second offense or a misdemeanor for a third or subsequent offense. A person is considered “present” and a spectator at a speed contest if s/he is within 200 feet of the race, or where the race is planned.

  • An infraction is a citation that is less serious than a misdemeanor
  • An infraction requires monetary payment
  • In some states, points will be added to the violator’s driver’s license for a conviction of exhibition of speed
  • Penalties will increase substantially if an injury or death occurs
  • If charged with a misdemeanor, the offender may be fined up to $1000 and/or 90 days in jail

Colorado Penalties:

If convicted of speed contest or drag racing in Colorado, the violator may be fined from

  • $300 to $1000 and/or
  • 10 days to 1 year in jail
  • Multiple convictions can result in the vehicle being immobilized

In Colorado, the offender may be charged with various offenses, including:

  • Rapid acceleration
  • Burning rubber and producing smoke with the tires
  • Driving dangerously by weaving and swaying

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Michael S. Berg
Attorney At Law