According to the National Hot Rod Association, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 20. Furthermore, for every 1,000 people that participate in illegal street racing, 49 are injured. It is for these reasons that the Texas legislature pushed to have the laws changed for illegal street racing in the state. On September 1, 2003, the laws for street racing in Texas became some of the harshest in the country.
The 2003 law upgraded street racing from a simple traffic violation to a class B misdemeanor. According to the Texas Penal Code, if found of guilty of a class B misdemeanor, the offender will receive a fine of up to $2000, 180 days in jail or both. Additionally, a street racer will automatically have his or her license suspended for up to one year, and he or she must complete 10 hours of community service before it is reinstated.
Repeated offenders are dealt with even more harshly. In fact, the punishment can range all the way up to a second degree felony, including the suspension of the driver's license. A second degree felony can result in imprisonment for two to 20 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. If found guilty after receiving two second felonies for illegally racing, the next offense can lead to life in prison.
Racing while Drunk
In Texas, the first offense for drinking and driving is an automatic class B misdemeanor with the suspension of a driver's license for up to a year and a $1,000 fine every three years afterward. However, if one is caught illegally racing while drunk, the punishment can increase from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. This punishment is also given if open containers of alcohol are found within the racing vehicle, regardless of the blood alcohol level of the driver.
Passengers can be punished just as severely as the driver who is illegally racing in Texas.The punishment for passengers is a class B misdemeanor that includes a $2,000 fine, up to six months in jail or both. Spectators, or anyone caught watching the event, can also receive a fine up to $500 and have their vehicles towed. Furthermore, if drivers who are participating in illegal racing events accidentally kill someone, they can face manslaughter charges and additional felony penalties.
- National Hot Rod Association: Illegal Racing Stats
- US Department of Justice: Problem Oriented Guides for Police, Street Racing
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Information for the News Media, New Traffic Laws takes Effect
- Texas Constitution and Statues: Penal Code, Title 3: Punishments
- Alcohol Alert: Texas Drunk Driving Statistics
- race car image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com