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Exhibitions of Speed Laws

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What Is Exhibition of Speed?

"Exhibition of speed" refers to what most people would think of as "drag racing" or "street racing." To facilitate criminalizing the activity, most courts have expanded the traditional definitions of drag racing in current anti-racing ordinances. Exhibition of speed is a type of reckless driving, when a person drives a vehicle at a rate of speed or in a manner that shows disregard for the safety of people and property.

The traditional notions of drag racing and exhibitions of speed often hold that there are more than one driver and or an audience to watch, often at illegal sideshows. Modern laws tend to eliminate the multi-car and audience requirements. Today, Exhibition of Speed is largely defined as displaying an unlawful amount of speed on public streets or highways while operating a motor vehicle.

Common Elements of Exhibition of Speed:

States differ on what acts are considered racing or exhibitions of speed. Generally, most states have these elements in common. 

  • Screeching tires (by itself usually not sufficient evidence for conviction)
  • Deliberately trying to gain the public’s attention
  • Driving that unnecessarily increases the risk of injury to the public

Possible Defenses:

Anti-racing and exhibition of speed regulations are often quite broad in their definitions.  Because of how expansive these laws are, most offenders argue that the laws themselves are difficult to understand and therefore not valid laws.

  • Vague statute - the statute or ordinance was not specific enough to put an ordinary person on notice of what activities are prohibited
  • Not Exhibition - there was no intent to race or exhibit speed
  • Accident - Loss of traction and noise was caused by road conditions, such as gravel or moisture

Is Exhibition of Speed a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Exhibition of Speed is typically a misdemeanor. Anyone found guilty of this crime may be sentenced to up to 90 days in county jail and:

Note: Specific sentences may vary across jurisdictions.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Because anti-racing/exhibition of speed laws were drafted with the intent of being broad, they can often get past constitutional requirements that all valid laws be specific enough to give a common person notice of the prohibited act.  An attorney specializing in moving violations or criminal law can assist in determining whether the law is valid and if you are in violation of it.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-14-2017 12:02 PM PDT

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