As long as there has been automobiles on the road, there has also been unsanctioned and illegal street races where drivers compete to be the fastest. The popularity of street races is what has helped The Fast and the Furious movie franchise spawn its many sequels. It is heavily romanticized in American culture. However, you can be certain that drag racing is illegal in Michigan and you can expect the police will not take these matters lightly.
MCL 257.626a states the following:
- "It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any vehicle upon any highway, or any other place open to the general public, including any area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, within this state, in a speed or acceleration contest or for the purpose of making a speed record, whether from a standing start or otherwise over a measured or unmeasured distance, or in a drag race as herein defined."
- "'Drag racing' means the operation of 2 or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to out-distance each other over a common selected course or where timing is involved or where timing devices are used in competitive accelerations of speeds by participating vehicles. Persons rendering assistance in any manner to such competitive use of vehicles shall be equally charged as participants. The operation of 2 or more vehicles either at speeds in excess of prima facie lawfully established speeds or rapidly accelerating from a common starting point to a speed in excess of such prima facie lawful speed is prima facie evidence of drag racing and is unlawful."
The penalty for street racing or drag racing is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both. Although there are no license sanctions with this offense, a conviction will add 4 points to the defendant's driving record (which cannot be avoided by taking the basic driver improvement course). Since this is a misdemeanor, it is considered a crime that will remain on your permanent criminal record since criminal traffic offenses are not currently available for expungement.
Here are some other considerations with respect to "drag racing":
- Actual Excess of Speed Limit Not Required: If two vehicles leave a stoplight and accelerate up to the speed limit "in a competitive attempt to out-distance each other over a common selected course or where timing is involved", then both drivers may be found guilty of drag racing.
- Actual Racing Not Required: Anyone "rendering assistance in any manner to such competitive use of vehicles shall be equally charged as participants". This includes spectators that are either keeping time or watching for the police.
Since this offense is a misdemeanor, the accused will be required to personally appear in district court to answer for this offense. The defendant can either elect to work out a resolution with the prosecutor or stand trial for the offense and have a judge or jury decide guilt or innocence. Remember, the maximum penalty can be up to 90 days in jail, which is much greater stakes than your average traffic ticket. When faced with this dilemma, there is no greater need for a traffic offense attorney that will protect your rights. A lawyer in your corner can work out a solution with the prosecutor that might involve pleading to a non-criminal civil infraction or even negotiate a dismissal.
If you or a loved one is faced with a charge of drag racing or any other traffic offense, do not hesitate to contract the experienced lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.