Austin Racing On A Highway Lawyer

Arrested for Street Racing on an Austin Highway?

Racing on a highway, involving competitive driving events like drag races or speed contests, can lead to severe legal consequences. If you find yourself facing charges, understanding the law is important. 

If you've been charged with highway racing, it's important to have a criminal defense lawyer in your corner. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we are here to protect your rights and defend you. Our attorneys will lead you through the legal process. Get in touch with Cofer & Connelly, PLLC at (512) 991-0576 or online to schedule a consultation.

What is a “Racing On a Highway” Offense?

Under Texas Statutes Section 545.420, racing on a highway is defined in several ways. If you're involved in any of these activities on a public road, you might be violating this law.

First, participating in a race, which is generally understood as trying to outpace another vehicle or reach a destination before them, falls under this law. This isn't just limited to formal races; it includes any attempt to outdistance or outgain another car or stop another car from passing you.

Another form of racing is a vehicle speed competition or contest. This is where you're involved in an event that compares the speed or acceleration of vehicles over a particular distance or time. This includes situations where vehicles might not be side by side but are still competing to see which one is faster over a set course.

Then, there's a drag race or acceleration contest. This specifically refers to two or more vehicles starting from a point side by side and racing at accelerating speeds to see who can outdistance the other. It can also mean racing over a common course from the same start to the same finish point, to compare speeds or acceleration.

A less obvious form of racing covered by the law is a test of physical endurance of the driver. This means you're using a vehicle to test how long you can drive without stopping or how far you can go, particularly in a competitive context.

Finally, the law considers street racing as any showing of vehicle speed or acceleration connected to a drag race, or an attempt to create a vehicle speed record. This means if you're showing off how fast your vehicle can go, especially in connection to a drag race, you might be breaking the law.

What is Needed for a Highway Racing Conviction?

It's important to note that for you to be convicted of racing on a highway under this law, the prosecutor must prove that you participated in one of these specific types of activities. Simply driving fast isn't enough; it has to fit one of these categories. This could involve evidence like witness testimonies, video footage, or other forms of proof that show you were engaged in a race, speed competition, drag race, endurance test, or a speed exhibition.

Penalties for Racing on a Highway

If you are convicted of racing on a highway in Texas, the penalties vary based on the classification of the offense.

Class B Misdemeanor

This is the starting point for racing offenses. If you're convicted of racing on a highway for the first time and it's a straightforward case without any aggravating factors, it's classified as a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty for this includes up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

Class A Misdemeanor

The offense is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor under two conditions: if you have one prior conviction for racing, or if at the time of the offense you were either driving while intoxicated, or in possession of an open container. A Class A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.

State Jail Felony

If you have two prior convictions for racing, the offense is classified as a state jail felony. This involves 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000.

Third Degree Felony

If the racing offense resulted in bodily injury to another individual, it's classified as a third degree felony. The penalties for this are more severe: 2 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

Second Degree Felony

The most severe classification is a second degree felony, which applies if the racing resulted in serious bodily injury or death. This carries a penalty of 2 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

In addition to these penalties, racing on a highway can lead to the mandatory suspension of your Texas driver's license.

It's worth noting that in some cases, alternatives to incarceration, such as probation, community service, or educational programs, might be available depending on the circumstances of the case and your legal history. These alternatives are often considered for first-time offenders or in cases where the court determines that incarceration may not be the most effective form of punishment. However, the availability of alternatives will depend on the specific details of your case and the discretion of the court.

Potential Defenses to Racing on a Highway Charges

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, you might argue that you were wrongly identified as the driver participating in the racing activity. This could happen in situations where the vehicle involved was similar to yours or if the identification was made under less than ideal circumstances or where many cars were in the vicinity of yours.

No Competitive Intent

The law specifically mentions competitive attempts to outdistance or outpace. If you can show that your driving, while maybe fast or aggressive, lacked a competitive element, this might serve as a defense.

Private Property Exception

If the alleged race occurred on private property and not a public highway, this could be a valid defense. Texas law specifically mentions public highways, so activities on private tracks or lands typically fall outside its scope.

Emergency Situations

If you were speeding or driving aggressively due to an emergency (e.g., rushing to get someone to a hospital), this could potentially be a defense. But this requires proof that the situation was a genuine emergency and that your actions were necessary under the circumstances.

Lack of Evidence

One of the most straightforward defenses is simply that there isn't enough evidence to prove you were racing. The prosecution must show that you were participating in a race, speed competition, drag race, endurance test, or speed exhibition. If they can't provide clear evidence, like witness testimonies or video footage, then you cannot be found guilty.

Remember, the effectiveness of these defenses depends on the specifics of your case and the evidence available.

Role of a Racing on a Highway Lawyer in Austin

If you're charged with racing on a highway, a criminal defense lawyer plays an important role in your case. They will thoroughly review the evidence against you, looking for any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the prosecution's case. Your lawyer will also explore all possible defenses based on the specifics of your situation. They understand Texas’ street racing laws and can argue effectively on your behalf.

Your lawyer will represent you in all legal proceedings, from arraignments to trials. They'll negotiate with prosecutors, possibly working out a plea deal or seeking reduced charges if that's in your best interest. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will prepare and present your defense, cross-examine witnesses, and argue before the judge or jury. They're your advocate, providing guidance and support throughout the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected, and striving for the best possible outcome in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Racing on a Highway

  • What exactly is considered racing on a highway?
    Racing involves competitive driving like drag races, speed contests, or trying to outpace another vehicle on public roads.
  • Can I be charged if I was just speeding and not racing?
    Racing charges specifically require a competitive element, so mere speeding might not qualify as racing under the law.
  • What if I was racing on private property?
    Street racing laws typically apply to public roads, so activities on private property may not be covered.
  • Is it still racing if there were no other cars involved?
    Yes, you can be charged even if you were the only car involved, especially in cases of time trials or solo speed tests.
  • Can racing charges affect my driver's license?
    Yes, convictions can lead to the suspension of your Texas driver's license.
  • What should I do if I'm charged with racing on a highway?
    Talk to a street racing criminal defense lawyer to understand your rights and begin building a defense.
  • Are there alternatives to jail time for racing charges?
    Depending on the case, alternatives like probation might be available.
  • How can a lawyer help in racing on a highway case?
    A lawyer can challenge evidence, negotiate with prosecutors, and represent you in court, aiming to reduce penalties or dismiss charges.

Contact an Austin Racing on a Highway Attorney Today

If you're facing charges for racing on a highway, it's essential to have experienced legal representation. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we understand the seriousness of your situation and are here to defend you and protect your rights. Our knowledgeable attorneys will guide you through the legal process. Don't tackle this situation alone. Contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online for a consultation with a traffic ticket lawyer.

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