Fighting a drag racing ticket is the same as fighting any crime, the state must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and you should always hire a lawyer and fight when accused of a criminal offense. The law enforcement officer (LEO) who writes the ticket could call it by another name, such as a “speed contest,” an “exhibition of speed,” "street race," “sideshow,” or merely racing. Whatever verbiage the LEO uses, they will likely write you a ticket for violation of CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23109, Driving Offenses, which is a misdemeanor offense and you need an attorney.
If the LEO circled the “M” rather than the “I” on your ticket, you received a misdemeanor charge. Watching, “aiding and abetting,” or just being around a street contest is also a crime that could get you arrested or cited under CVC 23109 (b, c, or d). CVC 23109 (b) states, “A person shall not aid or abet in any motor vehicle speed contest on any highway.” California courts have ruled that spectators were “aiding and abetting” in previous trials and upheld issued citations.
Traffic Infraction Vs. a Drag Racing Misdemeanor
Violations of the CVC get classified in four ways, minor or major infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Minor infractions are moving violations of the traffic code for which if convicted, the DMV assesses one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point. Minor infractions include offenses such as speeding 1-15 mph over the limit, not wearing a seatbelt, or an unsafe lane change. A major infraction, misdemeanor, or felony are assessed two points if convicted, and the fines are usually much higher. However, misdemeanors and felonies are criminal offenses. Therefore, the main difference between infractions and misdemeanors/felonies is the criminal record, possible jail time, and public safety. Additionally, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony violation is a felony conviction could result in more than a one-year sentence.
Although there is no “F” for felony on the ticket, if it is a felony offense or discovery shows it as a felony, the court will upgrade the charge. Take, for instance; when you receive a citation for a misdemeanor hit and run (property damage only), it will get upgraded to a felony if injuries or death occurred.
Drag Racing Conviction Penalties
Vehicles participating in drag racing or speed contest will get impounded. The cost of towing and storage from one to thirty days can reach into the thousands. The vehicle operator will get assessed two NOTS points, which will very likely cause a significant increase in auto insurance premiums or even cancellation. The minimum fine is $355 up to $1000 before county and state assessments, surcharges, and fees, which can bring the total to five to seven times the base fine, and confinement in the county jail for one to 90 days. Additionally, the court has the discretion to suspend, revoke, or restrict driving privileges from three to six months. You can only use a restricted driver’s license to go back and forth to work if granted by the court.
However, when the driver injures anyone besides themselves, they face imprisonment of 30 days up to six months, a minimum fine of $500 up to $1000, or both. Probation and/or imprisonment during non-working days are also at the court’s discretion.
Why Hire an Attorney
Often, drivers feel that hiring an attorney will make it more expensive. That is not necessarily the case; in fact, a traffic attorney can often plea bargain with the District Attorney (DA) or the Judge, if you approve. An attorney can often get you probation, lower fines, a restricted driver’s license, or a dismissal. When you plead guilty, many of those options are not possible and jail time is almost guaranteed.
Of course, hiring a lawyer is not a guarantee, or “get out of jail free card.” Traffic lawyers know what the state must prove, and when presented with evidence that contradicts that of the LEO, the court must dismiss the charges. Many late model cars look similar, and you could be stopped driving through the area where the drag racing or speed contest event took place.
Speak with a Misdemeanor Traffic Attorney for Kings County
Bigger & Harman have represented hundreds of clients in Kings County court in Hanford, CA, and across the Central Valley area. They practice only traffic law; therefore, they hear traffic court judgments in cases like yours frequently and know which approach is likely to be favorably received by the court. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, to discuss your specific circumstances, and they will give you a straightforward summary of your options and how much it will cost. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.
Bigger & Harman charge a flat rate for each situation, so you always know how much it will cost no matter how many hours they must devote to your case, or how many court appearances it takes.
Call or send them an email, today email@example.com. You will receive a reply summarizing your options when they get back to the office.
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CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23109, Driving Offenses
The CA DMV Young Drivers Portal
The 2018 CA Drivers Handbook .pdf
The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors .pdf