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The University of California at Riverside is legalizing street racing.

Prompted by the Facebook group "Bored UCR Commuters," many students race each other along I-215 to see who can be the fastest commuter. The contest extends to the parking lot; according to some students, it can take almost as long to find a parking space as it did to drive to campus. Specific program rules have not been announced, but the Student Recreation Center has been authorized to make commuter racing an official intramural sport.

UCR athletic director Janice Lewis stated that "while individuals may get a speeding ticket or two, maybe even the occasional car wreck, the friendships and camaraderie that our commuters will experience is priceless."

Of course, the above is just a student newspaper April Fools Joke. But if it had been true, Ms. Lewis and other UCR directors could have faced punishment under California Vehicle Code Section 23109. Section (c) prohibits any person from aiding and abetting in a contest of speed on any public highway. A "contest of speed" is defined as a race against a clock, timing device or another vehicle. The maximum available punishment is rather stiff, and includes:

Each of these elements increases with the number of prior convictions; for a second or subsequent offense, a driver may be fined up to $1000 (plus penalty assessments), incarcerated up to six months and face license suspension of up to six months. The penalties are even more severe if serious bodily injury is involved.

In Tulare County, the best approach to a racing ticket is to get it reduced to a simple speeding ticket. If a motorist is willing to admit to speeding, many prosecutors will abandon the racing element, because street racing can be hard to prove in court.

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