Ever since the automobile first made its way onto American roadways,
cities and states have limited how fast cars could legally travel.
Though speed limits are an ever present limitation whenever you drive,
many people are not aware that you can also violate traffic laws by
engaging in exhibitions of speed.
“Exhibitions of speed” is a
phrase that encompasses several types of activity, all of which are
regarded as dangerous. Though states categorize speed exhibitions
differently, exhibition of speed laws typically criminalize drag races,
street races, “peel outs,” skidding, sliding, “drifting,” and other
types of similar activity. Some states categorize the crime as “racing,”
or by other terms, but all states have laws that prohibit exhibitions
- Racing. An
exhibition of speed violation is often charged when drivers engage in
racing, drag racing, or any other form of speed or driving contest. Any
driver participating in a race can be convicted of exhibition of speed
even if there is no one else on the road other than the racers. It is
not necessary for a prosecutor to show that anyone was in danger during
the race, as the race or the exhibition of speed itself is what is
prohibited under the law.
- Showing-off. Exhibition
of speed charges sometimes require that a prosecutor show the driver
engaged in the unsafe activity in order to impress someone else.
However, that someone else can be a complete stranger, and it is not
necessary for the prosecutor to show the driver had any specific person
in mind. In some states, however, there is no requirement that the
exhibition of speed is done to impress someone else, and you can be
convicted of the crime if no one else is around.
- Speed limits. Unlike
speeding tickets, an exhibition of speed charge doesn't require that
you travel above a certain speed. All a prosecutor has to show is that
you accelerated unusually quickly, “peeled out,” raced, or engaged in
prohibited or dangerous activity. Even if you never exceeded the speed
limit, you can still be convicted of an exhibition of speed.
- Intentional. You
cannot be convicted of exhibition of speed if you didn't intend to
drive your car in the illegal manner. For example, if you are a new
driver or have recently rented a car that has a lot more power than you
are used to and you accidentally accelerate too quickly, you are not
guilty of an exhibition of speed. The prosecution must show that you
intended to unreasonably accelerate or engage in prohibited activity.
convicted for an exhibition of speed crime can lead to some fairly
significant consequences. While some states charge exhibitions of speed
as traffic infraction, others punish them as a misdemeanors, a more
serious type of offense. While state laws differ significantly,
exhibition of speed convictions typically bring with them one or more of
the following penalties.
- Fines. Many,
if not most, convictions for exhibitionist speed are punished with a
fine. The amount of the fine depends upon the state or municipality in
which the crime was charged, but convictions can bring a fine ranging
from anywhere between $50 to $500 or more.
- Probation. A
court may also sentence someone convicted of exhibition of speed to a
probation term, usually one that lasts 6 months or longer. A person on
probation must comply with specific court conditions, such as regularly
meeting with a probation officer and maintaining a clean driving record.
If someone on probation violates any of the probation terms, the court
will often revoke probation and impose a jail sentence.
- Jail. State
laws also allow courts to impose a jail sentence in exhibition of speed
cases. The likelihood of a jail sentence often depends upon the
circumstances of the case and the driver's history. Most states allow
for a jail sentence of up to 30 or 60 days, though up to 90 days or
longer is possible in some states.
- Suspended license. An
exhibition of speed conviction can also result in the loss of driving
privileges. People convicted of exhibition of speed often have their
licenses suspended for up to 6 months or longer. In many states, first
time exhibition of speed offenders do not have their licenses suspended
unless the driver's actions were particularly dangerous.
Talk to a Lawyer for Legal Advice
of speed charges can be serious, and you shouldn't view them as just
another traffic ticket. Even if you have never been convicted of a crime
before, the possibility that you might lose your license, pay a hefty
fine, or spend time in jail means that you should seek out the advice of
a local criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Collateral
consequences also may involve difficulty getting insurance. Only an
attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and give you legal advice
based on your individual situation.