“One injured in apparent street-racing crash in Baytown ...”
“Teenager killed in fatal Dallas street-racing crash ...”
While these headlines may not jolt fear in the average youth, parents typically cringe at such news. Once their children start driving, parents worst fears revolve around receiving that phone call from law enforcement informing them that their child or children were involved in a collision, especially a serious one.
According to Texas DPS Trooper San Miguel, a dangerous trend with some local drivers has been the act of engaging in illegal street racing. Prior to 2003, street racing was considered a Class C misdemeanor, nothing more than a traffic ticket.
However, the 78th Texas Legislature amended the Texas Transportation Code 545.420 that year which upgraded the illegal act to a detainable offense, which means jail time.
Statistics from the National Institute of Health report that compared with other drivers involved in fatal crashes, street racers were more likely to be teenagers, male, and have previous crashes and driving violations.
The minimum penalty for street racing in Texas for a first offense where no one received injuries: the driver and any passengers will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, jailed up to 180 days, and/or fined up to $2,000.
The vehicle(s) will be impounded and driver license(s) will be suspended for one year.
The penalty for a second offense or a first offense if the driver is intoxicated or has an open container of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor charge, jail time up to one year and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
The vehicle(s) will be impounded and driver license(s) suspended for one year.
If the driver is between the ages of 10-16, he/she will not be eligible to apply for or renew his/her driver license until the age of 19 due to the Zero Tolerance law – no one under the age of 21 may drive with any detectable alcohol or drugs in his/her system.
The third offense for street racing is a state jail felony where the driver(s) is jailed from 180 days to two years or more and fined up to $10,000.
The vehicle(s) will be impounded and driver license(s) suspended.
If anyone is injured by the street racing, or for an offense where a driver exhibited or used a deadly weapon during the crime or while fleeing, the charge is a third-degree felony.
The vehicle is considered as a deadly weapon during the commission of this crime. Upon a guilty conviction, the driver(s) will be jailed from two to 10 years and fined up to $10,000.
A second-degree felony charge will be levied for the 1st (or any) offense if anyone receives serious bodily injury or dies because of the street race. The driver(s) will be jailed from two to 20 years and fined up to $10,000.
When the driver’s license is suspended, but the defendant is not in jail, he/she can apply for an occupational license to allow the driver to go to school and home (and work if you are 18 or older).
If authorities catch the driver street racing, while his/her license is suspended, the suspension starts over again, and there is an automatic move to at least the Class A misdemeanor penalty category.
The spectators of street racing can receive fines of up to $500 for watching a race as well as possible vehicle impoundment.
Of course, the heaviest punishment of all, for both drivers and spectators, remains loss of life to a street racing accident. No amount of perceived fun from a street race can counter the regret and consequences levied when you are caught or cause injury or death to another.
Drive safely, courteously, and buckle up. Drive 2 Arrive Alive!