Roadways can generally be a dangerous place, but they become more unsafe when people decide to participate in “street racing.” This act can be defined as two or more cars racing down portions of a public road at speeds that surpass the legal limit. It is common for drivers to participate in street racing as a sport off of public roads. However, those drivers who take the competition to public streets — where other drivers are not expecting it — can face severe traffic violations if caught.
At Chicago Traffic Lawyers, located in Chicago, Illinois, our criminal defense and traffic violations defense practice helps clients who have been charged and arrested for street racing on public streets and highways. We are actively involved in the Illinois court system and proactively help our clients to avoid criminal conviction for misdemeanors and felony crimes. If a person is convicted for drag racing or street racing, the Illinois Secretary of State may suspend or revoke that person’s driver’s license. Our law firm can help to avoid this.
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How Can you be Charged with Street Racing in Illinois?
The law that controls street races in Illinois is controlled by 625 ILCS 5/11-506. Under the law, no person shall engage in street racing on any street or highway of the state of Illinois. Street racing is defined as;
The operation of 2 or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other; or
- The operation of one or more vehicles over a common selected, course, each starting at the same point, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of such vehicle or vehicles within a certain distance or time limit; or
- The use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to outgain or outdistance another vehicle; or
- The use of one or more vehicles to prevent another vehicle from passing; or
- The use of one or more vehicles to arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles; or
- The use of one or more vehicles to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes.
What Are the Consequences of Street Racing?
Drivers can injure themselves or others during street races. If violators collide with an innocent vehicle, the victim can suffer many types of damages:
- Personal injury
- Damage to vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
The driver who was involved in the street race will be considered at fault and required to pay compensation to the victim or the victim’s family. On top of that, a driver can be affected by street racing because of the charges that come after the accident. A driver’s record will be tainted, and his or her reputation within the community may also suffer. This is why street racing should be kept to competitive arenas and away from unsuspecting bystanders.
What are the penalties & sentencing for street racing in Illinois?
The sentence for street racing is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. In certain cases, the court is allowed to impose a sentence of community service.
A person who allows another person to use their vehicle for street racing is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty includes up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,500.
The critical issue for street racing is that a conviction will cause the Secretary of State to revoke the defendant’s driver’s license for a minimum period of one year. The defendant will have to appear before a hearing officer in order to get their license reinstated.
Street racing is a felony offense called aggravated street racing on the second offense, which also has a mandatory minimum fine of $500. If the driver is involved in an accident and the result is great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, then the offense is an enhanced Class 4 felony with a sentencing range of 1-12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Additionally, if a driver commits street racing in a highway construction or maintenance zone, the potential fine can increase dramatically. The newly updated language of 625 ILCS 5/11-908 establishes a maximum fine of $25,000 for failing to proceed with due caution in highway construction or maintenance zones.
What are the Potential Defenses
The offense of speed racing requires someone to intend to race and purposefully engage in the contest. If the defendant didn’t willfully participate then this can be a defense to the charge.
The law prohibits speed contests on public roads. A defense is that the race occurred on private property.
Additionally, if a formal speed contest fell within the statutory guidelines, the defendant is not guilty of violating the law.
Who Can be Charged with Street Racing?
In most cases, persons participating as drivers in a street race may face criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, they can also be held liable for civil consequences if injuries or property damage results from the contest.
In some jurisdictions, “spectators” can also face the same criminal consequences as the drivers in an illegal speed contest. A spectator is usually defined as someone who is present at a street racing location for the purpose of viewing, observing, witnessing or watching the event.
Also, any person who engages, aids in, assists with preparations, or participates in a speed contest can be cited as well.
You Do Not Need to Be the Driver
Not only is it illegal for a driver to engage in street racing, but it is also against the law to knowingly allow another person to use your vehicle for street racing purposes. A conviction for knowingly permitting another to use your vehicle for racing can subject you to a Class B misdemeanor charge for a first offense, and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.
Chicago Street Racing Criminal Defense Attorney Explains What Happens if a Street Racers Kills Somebody
If a street racer accidentally kills somebody as a result of street racing, the state attorney will charge the racer with murder. It is not going to be an offense of reckless vehicular homicide. That happens because street racers intentionally endanger other drivers. Therefore, they do not act negligently. Because of that wanton conduct, it will be first-degree murder.
Additional Sanctions of Street Racing Conviction
If a person is convicted of street racing, the Illinois Secretary of State will revoke the driver’s license for a year. As a result, the person will not be able to get his license after the revocation period is over. Subsequently, the driver will have to appear before the hearing officer at the Illinois Secretary of State. At the administrative hearing, the motorist will have to convince the hearing officer to reinstate your driver’s license. That will require a lot of preparation, effort. Definitely, it will cost you a lot.
Chicago Traffic Lawyer
If you have been arrested for a street racing charge, you will need an experienced Chicago traffic attorney to help you defend against the charges. Street racing is unlike many other charges because a conviction comes along with your license being revoked. Our Chicago traffic lawyers have handled these types of charges and can help you prevent your license from getting revoked! Call the Chicago Traffic Lawyers today!