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
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
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:
• Two years of informal probation
• License suspension
“Exhibitions of speed” is a phrase that encompasses several types of activity, all of which are regarded as dangerous. Though states categorize speed exhibitions differently, exhibition of speed laws typically criminalize drag races, street races, “peel outs,” skidding, sliding, “drifting,” and other types of similar activity. Some states categorize the crime as “racing,” or by other terms, but all states have laws that prohibit exhibitions of speed.
• Racing: An exhibition of speed violation is often charged when drivers engage in racing, drag racing, or any other form of speed or driving contest. Any driver participating in a race can be convicted of exhibition of speed even if there is no one else on the road other than the racers. It is not necessary for a prosecutor to show that anyone was in danger during the race, as the race or the exhibition of speed itself is what is prohibited under the law.
• Showing-off: Exhibition of speed charges sometimes require that a prosecutor show the driver engaged in the unsafe activity in order to impress someone else. However, that someone else can be a complete stranger, and it is not necessary for the prosecutor to show the driver had any specific person in mind. In some states, however, there is no requirement that the exhibition of speed is done to impress someone else, and you can be convicted of the crime if no one else is around.
• Speed limits: Unlike speeding tickets, an exhibition of speed charge doesn’t require that you travel above a certain speed. All a prosecutor has to show is that you accelerated unusually quickly, “peeled out,” raced, or engaged in prohibited or dangerous activity. Even if you never exceeded the speed limit, you can still be convicted of an exhibition of speed.
• Intentional: You cannot be convicted of exhibition of speed if you didn’t intend to drive your car in the illegal manner. For example, if you are a new driver or have recently rented a car that has a lot more power than you are used to and you accidentally accelerate too quickly, you are not guilty of an exhibition of speed. The prosecution must show that you intended to unreasonably accelerate or engage in prohibited activity.
Being convicted for an exhibition of speed crime can lead to some fairly significant consequences. While some states charge exhibitions of speed as traffic infraction, others punish them as a misdemeanor, a more serious type of offense. While state laws differ significantly, exhibition of speed convictions typically bring with them one or more of the following penalties.
• Fines: Many, if not most, convictions for exhibitionist speed are punished with a fine. The amount of the fine depends upon the state or municipality in which the crime was charged, but convictions can bring a fine ranging from anywhere between $50 to $500 or more.
• Probation: A court may also sentence someone convicted of exhibition of speed to a probation term, usually one that lasts 6 months or longer. A person on probation must comply with specific court conditions, such as regularly meeting with a probation officer and maintaining a clean driving record. If someone on probation violates any of the probation terms, the court will often revoke probation and impose a jail sentence.
• Jail: State laws also allow courts to impose a jail sentence in exhibition of speed cases. The likelihood of a jail sentence often depends upon the circumstances of the case and the driver’s history. Most states allow for a jail sentence of up to 30 or 60 days, though up to 90 days or longer is possible in some states.
• Suspended license: An exhibition of speed conviction can also result in the loss of driving privileges. People convicted of exhibition of speed often have their licenses suspended for up to 6 months or longer. In many states, first time exhibition of speed offenders do not have their licenses suspended unless the driver’s actions were particularly dangerous.
Types Of Speed Limits
In general, there are three types of speed limits: absolute, presumed and basic. Each type has different criteria, and as a result, you could face a ticket for any of the three. Information on these speed limit types includes:
• Absolute speed limit — The absolute speed limit is the posted speed limit in an area. You break the absolute speed limit if you travel over the posted speed by any amount.
• Presumed speed limit — The presumed speed limit is not as straightforward. If an officer believes that you have broken the presumed speed limit, he or she believes that your speed did not suit the conditions at the time.
• Basic speed limit — When an issue arises involving the basic speed limit, it means that an officer believes that your driving speed was unsafe even if it was at or below the posted limit. In this case, the officer would need to prove that your speed posed a safety issue.
You may think that a traffic ticket is not a big deal, but it can still impact your driver’s license and driving record. You can also defend against a traffic ticket, and knowing the different types of speed limits may help you determine what type of defense may best suit your needs.
Creating a defense
While you certainly have the option of paying a speeding ticket and moving on, you may feel that justice needs pursuing if you believe the ticket was issued unnecessarily. Fortunately, you have legal options for creating and presenting a defense in traffic court. Information on your options may help you decide what course of action may prove useful.
Exhibition Of Speed Consequences
For an exhibition of speed violation, you may be charged with a mere infraction, or a serious misdemeanor. This is up to the prosecutor’s discretion, and usually revolves around how threatening you were to the safety of the public. Street racing is typically a large threat to the public, so these violations are usually misdemeanors. That being said, it is in your best interest to do everything you can to only receive an infraction just take a look at the list of exhibition of speed misdemeanor consequences:
• Incarceration with up to 90 days in a county jail
• A base fine up to $500 (not including additional fees)
• Summary probation for 2 years
• Suspension of driver’s license for up to 6 months
• Up to 50 hours of community service
• Car impoundment with a maximum of 30 days
Many acts could be interpreted by a law enforcement officer (LEO) as an exhibition of speed. Sudden accelerations, spinning tires, skidding actions often called “drifting” on the street, and drag racing are some of those actions. However, some of those could be considered reckless driving or speeding. Speeding by itself would not be an exhibition of speed. Likewise, a ticket is not limited to the driver but could include what law enforcement considers “aiding or abetting.” There are four distinct elements of traffic law contained within an exhibition of speed, though not all elements must be present, these are:
• Operating a motor vehicle on a public highway or roadway
• Intentional or willful acceleration or driving at a high rate of speed that most would consider unsafe
• Showing off or driving to impress another
• Aiding or abetting, such as participating in a speed contest as a timer, roadblock setup, or warning participants of law enforcement, and others.
What to Do When You Get a Speeding Ticket
There’s nothing fun about the feeling you get when those blue lights flash behind you on the highway. Nobody wants to get a speeding ticket, and for good reason. If you’re convicted, a violation will:
• Affect your driving record, possibly resulting in suspension of your license.
• Cost money upfront: You’ll pay the speeding ticket and any court fees.
• Cost more money long term: After a ticket, your car insurance rates can rise by hundreds of dollars per year.
If the officer doesn’t show up at the hearing, you could be off the hook, but don’t rely on that. If you ask for a hearing, plan to make your case and be questioned before a judge. Check the ticket to find out whether a state, county or local officer issued it and search online for traffic procedures in that jurisdiction. Look up your state’s motor vehicle code, carefully read the speed law you allegedly broke and prepare to argue that you didn’t. As you prepare for court, you can:
• Delay the hearing. This will give you more time to build your case.
• Gather evidence. Your best chances to win the argument will be if you have physical proof you weren’t speeding. Evidence could include dashcam video or GPS data from a Smartphone app, or photographic evidence that a speed limit sign was obscured.
• Research speed equipment. Look up the method the officer used to clock your speed, note its weaknesses and prepare to present them. Instruction manuals include maintenance schedules you can question the officer about, and they may note radar gun weaknesses, for example.
• Make witness arrangements. You can call in witnesses, including any passengers in the car when the ticket was issued.
• Plan your questions. You can question the issuing officer, including about his or her memory and training with speed-clocking equipment. Stick to questions with short answers and avoid asking “why” questions.
Deciding Whether To Get A Lawyer
If all this sounds like more than you’d want to handle on your own, you can enlist a traffic lawyer to help you. These lawyers typically specialize in DUIs and more serious cases, but some take speeding ticket cases. Considering the costs, hiring a lawyer is likely worth the money if your ticket is particularly expensive or could result in the loss of your license. “Mitigation” is making a deal with the prosecutor and court; it saves the jurisdiction money by avoiding a hearing while lowering your penalty for the ticket. You may be able to request a negotiation before or at your hearing, but it’s the court’s decision, so check on the court’s website or call to be sure. In some areas, you must request mitigation in writing. Typically in mitigation, you admit to the offense and present information that would lead a judge to grant you leniency. Outcomes may include:
• You pay all or some of the ticket, but it doesn’t affect your driving record.
• You take a driving course instead of paying the speeding ticket.
• The ticket is reduced to a lesser fine.
• You’re given extra time to pay the fine.
Other Possible Outcomes
There are other possible ways your speeding ticket can shake out. For example, depending on where you live:
• Your state may waive your first moving violation if you take a driving course.
• You could receive a deferral, in which case typically you’ll pay a fine and your ticket will be dismissed after a period of time if there are no further offenses.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the ticket. It won’t just go away on its own, and you’ll be in much bigger trouble with the law. How much trouble depends on your state: You could be arrested or have to pay larger fines, or your license could be suspended.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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