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For many years, Racing was considered a Civil Infraction and it could have been resolved in a similar fashion to any speeding or red light citation.  However, in 1999, the Florida Legislature criminalized Racing for the first time since 1971.  Over night, a whole new group of individuals were exposed to criminal sanctions.  These sanctions include mandatory driver license revocations, the temporary impoundment of the vehicle involved, and the possibility of jail time.  Repeat offenses could result in harsher fines, the forfeiture of the motor vehicle involved, longer driver license revocation periods, and the higher possibility of a jail sentence.  Racing on a Highway may also extend to participants and passengers of vehicles involved in these alleged “races”.

The most overlooked aspect to a sentence on a Racing charge is the imposition of a mandatory driver license revocation.  Many people come to my office after appearing at an Arraignment without an attorney, wondering why they received a written letter from the DHSMV advising them that their driving privilege has been revoked for a year.  Since Fla. Stat. §316.191 provides for a mandatory driver license revocation upon conviction, Judges and Assistant State Attorneys cannot “waive”that provision of a sentence in a plea negotiation.  It doesn’t matter whether this is the first or fiftieth time you’ve been to court, your license must be revoked pursuant to the law.

By their nature, criminal charges of Racing on a Highway are broadly construed throughout this state with many courts interpreting the definition of Racing in different ways.

It is important to note that merely being a “spectator” of such a race will result in the issuance of a non criminal, Civil Infraction charge.  Although this is not Criminal in nature, it is a moving violation that could result in points being assessed against your driving privilege.  Fortunately, this type of charge does not require a driver license revocation upon conviction.

Rick Silverman - Traffic Attorney