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Does Passing Another Vehicle Qualify as Excessive Speed?

For those that don't know, California has a law that is called an “Exhibition of Speed,” which is not the same as excessive speed, normally excessive speed is confined to going faster than road or weather conditions dictate, but could be legally defined as using too much speed to pass or passing in an unsafe area and an exhibition of speed is defined as an act of racing. Although both laws can be up to the interpretation of the law enforcement (LE) officer issuing the ticket, a judge may decide the LE officer’s interpretation was incorrect. An exhibition of speed is one of those lesser-known laws that unless you live here you may not know exists. Even then, you may not know about it until you were ticketed for it. This article will help clear up any misconceptions.

What is an Exhibition of Speed Under California (CA) Law?

As stated above, an exhibition of speed is defined by CA Vehicle Code (CVC) as, “a person shall not engage in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed on a highway, and a person shall not aid or abet in a motor vehicle exhibition of speed on any highway." Therefore, even encouraging someone to race is illegal. This could be interpreted as simply attending an illegal race and most judges will not find that as a misinterpretation. Sure, you see these races on TV and in the movies, such as Fast & Furious, but that’s just for entertainment. In reality, it could mean real trouble if you are caught encouraging this type of lawlessness.

Another example could include sitting at a red-light and revving your engine to provoke the vehicle beside you to race or downshifting while passing a vehicle to incite a race. If that’s an unmarked LE cruiser beside you, you could incite a ticket rather than a race.

What is Excessive Speed Under CA Law

CVC, section 22350 states, “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property. So, now you can see how an LE officer could interpret your burst of speed to pass another vehicle as excessive speed, right?

On a narrow two-lane road, particularly in inclement weather even when you don’t exceed the posted speed limit, it could be considered excessive speed. In addition, the statute applies to residential areas, school zones, or business districts, with or without a posted speed limit. It could even be judged as reckless driving or driving to endanger. You always have the option of letting a judge decide if the LE officer’s interpretation was correct; however, you stand a better chance with expert legal advice from a traffic ticket defense attorney.

Driving at a speed that matches the conditions and traffic is something everyone should do. Hopefully you learned the difference between excessive speed and an exhibition of speed, a little about California's laws and the reasoning behind it.

Hire the Best Traffic Ticket Attorneys Southern California Has to Offer

Hopefully, the day will not come when you need the services of Bigger & Harman, but when you do remember this number, 661-349-9300. Or, send us an email, attorney@markbigger.com describing what happened and a scanned copy of your ticket, so we can start the ball rolling before your appointment. We handle traffic tickets and traffic court in south-central valley California, including Kern, Kings, LA, Riverside, San Bernardino, and others.

En español, llame al 661-349-9755.