We see some similarities when we compare the traffic violations, speeding, speed contest, an exhibition of speed, and reckless driving. We will also see that CA traffic law explicitly distinguishes some significant differences.
Likewise, some myths have lingered for decades, which we will clarify.
Myth #1 — Speeding & Reckless Driving
The first myth is that more than 25 mph over the speed is reckless driving. There is no connection in CA traffic law that ties ANY speed with reckless driving. You will find instances of this myth being perpetuated even by attorneys unfamiliar with traffic law.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23103, Public Offenses states, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” It does not say anything about speed. The law enforcement officer (LEO) could issue a ticket for speeding in addition to reckless driving.
Myth #2 — Speeding Over 100 MPH Is a Misdemeanor
CVC 22348, Speed Laws, warns drivers, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour is guilty of an infraction…” The fundamental difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor is the possibility of jail time. Although there are severe consequences for a 100+ mph speeding conviction, jail time is not one of those. However, a speed contest, an exhibition of speed, and reckless driving are misdemeanors with possible jail time or probation for a conviction.
A Speed Contest Vs Speeding
CVC Section 23109, Public Offenses, paragraph (a) notes, “A person shall not engage in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway. As used in this section, a motor vehicle speed contest includes a motor vehicle race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device. For purposes of this section, an event in which the time to cover a prescribed route of more than 20 miles is measured, but where the vehicle does not exceed the speed limits, is not a speed contest.”
As stated in paragraphs b, c, and d, it is also a crime to aid or abet a speed contest by erecting barriers, keeping time, taking admission, and many other forms.
Therefore, the LEO who issues both a Speed Contest citation and a speeding ticket might be seen by the judge as “adding on,” as a speed contest violation already implies there was speed involved. The driver should consult an attorney with criminal and traffic experience.
An Exhibition of Speed Vs Speeding
CVC Section 23109, Public Offenses, paragraph (c) describes the “exhibition of speed.” Although it is not explicitly stated, an exhibition of speed could include spinning or squawking the tires on a car, truck, or motorcycle. Thus, an exhibition of speed does not have to include speeding. Therefore, the LEO could issue citations for an exhibition of speed, speeding, and disturbing the peace.
Once again, a wise driver will consult an attorney who has experience in criminal and traffic court.
Who Can Resolve My Citations for Speeding, Speed Contest, Exhibition of Speed, or Reckless Driving?
When you get a speeding ticket or are charged with a speed contest, an exhibition of speed, or reckless driving, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
Regardless of the situation, never admit guilt to the LEO issuing the citation or an officer of the court without consulting an attorney. It is always advisable to consult an attorney with criminal and traffic court experience.
An attorney without traffic experience might not have as much knowledge of traffic law as we do. We practice traffic law exclusively. Give us a call; the call is free and without obligation.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdfCVC Section 22348, Speed Laws, 23103 & 23109, Public Offenses