In the State of Washington, a driver can be accused of reckless driving when operating a motor vehicle in a way that shows total disregard for the safety of people and property. One type of reckless driving charge involves racing another vehicle. The State defines the racing charge as a willfully operating a motor vehicle at high and unlawful speeds. This means one or more drivers may be driving at exhibitions of speeds on a public street.

What Does Exhibition of Speeds Mean?

Exhibition of speed, or contested speed, is commonly referred to as drag racing. However, it also includes doing things like:

  • Deliberately trying to obtain the public’s attention by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner
  • Screeching tires
  • Driving in a way that unnecessarily increases the risk of injury to people or property 

Can I be Charged with a Racing Charge Even if I Wasn’t Going Beyond the Speed Limit?

Yes. In Washington, a driver can be charged and convicted of racing even if they weren’t travel more than the speed limit. The prosecutor only needs to show that the defendant accelerated abruptly or unusually quickly.

Is a Racing Charge a Misdemeanor or Gross Misdemeanor?

A racing charge is considered charged as a gross misdemeanor. A gross misdemeanor is a more serious misdemeanor charge, but not enough to be considered a felony.

What is the Punishment for a Racing Conviction in Washington State?

If a defendant is convicted of racing, they can face less than 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A convicted defendant also have their licenses suspended automatically for 30 days. A license suspension will mean the defendant needs a special, high risk insurance, SR-22, for 3 years. SR-22 is more expensive than regular insurance.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Racing Charge?

Yes, you should contact a Washington lawyer about your racing charge.