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A teenage girl is dead following a horrific crash involving two drivers who authorities believe were racing.

The crash occurred on Yerba Buena Road, which is notorious among local residents because so many cars are speeding. Police say that 19-year-old Gabriel Becerra was racing his silver Nissan against 24-year old Manuel Maldonado-Avalos and his silver BMW. They lost control of their vehicles and slammed into a guardrail. 19-year-old Kiran Pabla, who was either walking or jogging on the sidewalk, was pinned between one of the cars and the guardrail. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr. Becerra and Mr. Maldonado-Avalos face charges of reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter.

One extreme speeding ticket, the super speeder law ( VC 22348), focuses on reducing over 100 MPH speeders. I think we can all agree that racing down city streets and most highways at this street is highly dangerous. But many a driver gets their first speeding ticket ever for driving over 100 on the wide open valley road on I-5 near Lamont or Fresno. VC 22348(b) sets stiff penalties, including high fines and drivers' license suspension, for motorists who travel at least 100 MPH. The best way to defend these tickets is to attempt to get the charges reduced to a normal speeding, which has a lower fine and fewer points, and is oftentimes possible in an area where over 100 MPH tickets are common.

Racing ( VC 23109) is an entirely different matter. By its very nature, racers only care about getting from the starting line to the finish line as quickly as possible. Street racing often has tragic consequences, such as the tragedy in San Jose.

In some states, notably New Jersey, drivers are presumed to be racing if they travel faster than a certain speed, perhaps 30 or 40 MPH over the posted limit. But in Kern County, racing is a bit more difficult to prove. VC 23109 prohibits a vehicle racing against another vehicle, a clock or a timing device. Excessive speed is only one component of the violation.

Reckless driving ( VC 23103) falls somewhere in between these extremes. Note that the two men in the above story were charged with reckless driving instead of racing, because it is much easier to prove. The statute defines the violation as driving "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." Arguably, almost any moving violation could be considered reckless driving. Unless there is an injury, this violation is also rather difficult to prove in Lamont traffic court.

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