Broward’s Crackdown on Reckless Driving and Street Racing
March 20, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI, News & Announcements Social Share
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony gave a news conference on March 9th, 2023 addressing the efforts being made to crack down on street racing in South Florida. According to the report, Sheriff Tony warned citizens to “quit your antics” involving reckless driving, street racing, and intersection takeover crews.
Since January, the Sheriff’s Office has seen an uptick in reckless driving in incidents from West Palm Beach into Miami-Dade.
“We’re not going to have any moments of giving someone a break or warning,” Tony said. “Two-fold is going to happen. We’re going to take your vehicles, and we’re going to take you to jail.”
The most recent incident resulting in arrests took place on March 10th, 2023. According to the report, BSO’s Burglary Apprehension Team (BAT) was surveilling a group of 60-70 drivers in Margate around 11 pm. The BAT witnessed six of the drivers perform reckless behavior behind the wheel. This included spinning out their tires at a high speed inside a shopping plaza filled with restaurants and stores.
As the drivers pulled into a nearby gas station, the BAT moved in and arrested the six individuals on reckless driving charges. The six vehicles used were also seized by law enforcement.
All six of those arrested were charged under Statute Section 316.191, a new Florida law that went into effect in October 2022. The new law targets highway street racing, street takeovers, and stunt driving. Not only will the drivers be apprehended for participating in these activities, but also those who coordinate the events, the spectators, and any passengers.
The following is a statement from Sheriff Tony after the most recent arrests:
“We’re going to continue to exercise this type of aggressive enforcement activity. These stunts, these daredevils, these reckless drivers, these careless drivers, you’re not going to get a break from me. You’re not going to get a break from any of my deputies. We’re going to make sure we safeguard the streets of Broward County.”
Dangers of Street Racing
Street racing is defined as the unsanctioned and illegal act of auto racing which occurs on a public road. When a person is caught street racing, they can face the criminal charge of reckless driving. Aside from the criminal sanctions, reckless driving is extremely dangerous.
The following is a list of the dangers that occur from street racing:
- Accidents – When people partake in street racing, it implies operating a vehicle at higher speeds than the legal limit. This type of driving can often lead to car accidents, which may cause serious injuries or fatalities to drivers, passengers, and bystanders.
- Property Damage – If an accident occurs from street racing, there will likely be damage to the vehicles, nearby buildings, signs, or other public property. The person involved in street racing may be held liable for paying for such property damage.
- Public Safety – The public can be at risk during street racing. Bystanders and other drivers can be put in danger from the speed and reckless manner of the street racers.
- Increased Insurance Rate – A person caught speed racing may not only face criminal charges, but they may also be required to pay a higher insurance rate, or even the cancellation of their policies.
- Stigma and Reputation – A driver who has been convicted of reckless driving from a street racing incident may face the negative impact of being known as a reckless driver.
- Legal Penalties – In Florida, street racing is considered unlawful. A person who is caught street racing can be charged with reckless driving or worse, unlawfully racing on highways. This type of offense is punishable with fines, license suspension, and possible imprisonment.
Reckless Driving Charges in Florida
Under Florida Statute Section 316.192, it is unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or public property. It can also be considered reckless driving when a person flees law enforcement.
For a first-time reckless driving conviction, the penalties are as follows:
- Fine between $25 and $500; and
- Imprisonment up to 90 days.
For a second or subsequent reckless driving offense, the penalties are as follows:
- Fine between $50 and $1,000; and
- Imprisonment of up to six months.
During the act of reckless driving, if the defendant has caused damage to the property or person of another, they can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
During the act of reckless driving, if the defendant caused serious bodily injury to another person, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
In addition, a defendant who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances while in the commission of reckless driving may be required to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation.
Charges for Racing on Highways, Street Takeovers, and Stunt Driving
Florida Statute Section 316.191 defines a “drag race” as the operation of two or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other.
A “street takeover” is considered the taking over of a portion of the highway, roadway, or parking lot by blocking or impeding the regular flow of traffic to perform a race, drag race, burnout, doughnut, drifting, wheelie, or other stunt driving.
Lastly, “stunt driving” is defined as performing or engaging in a burnout, doughnut, drift, wheelie, or other dangerous motor vehicle activity on a highway, roadway, or parking lot as part of a street takeover.
Florida law explains that it is unlawful for a person to drive any motor vehicle in any street takeover, stunt driving, race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, or exhibition of speed or acceleration or for the purpose of making a speed record on any highway, roadway, or parking lot.
Other unlawful acts codified under this section include:
- Any person who coordinates on social media or participates, facilitates, or collects money at a location for a race, drag race, street takeover, stunt driving competition, test, or exhibition;
- Any person who knowingly rides as a passenger in any such race, drag race, street takeover, stunt driving, competition, contest, test, or exhibition;
- Any person who purposefully causes the movement of traffic, including pedestrian traffic, to slow, stop, or be impeded in any way for such race, drag race, street takeover, stunt driving, competition, contest, test, or exhibition;
- Any person who operates a motor vehicle for the purpose of filming or recording the activities during such race, drag race, street takeover, stunt driving, competition, contest, test, or exhibition; or
- Any person who operates a vehicle carrying fuel for the purpose of fueling a vehicle involved in a race, drag race, street takeover, stunt driving, competition, contest, test, or exhibition.
Penalties for Racing on Highways, Street Takeovers, and Stunt Driving
For a first-time offense, a person who violates any of the above sections can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The defendant will be required to pay a fine between $500 and $1,000 and may face jail time of up to 1 year. In addition, the convicted driver’s license will be revoked for one year.
For a second offense within five years, a person who violates any of the above sections can be charged with another first-degree misdemeanor. However, on top of the possibility of 1 year in jail, the defendant will also be required to pay a fine between $1,000 and $3,000. In addition, the convicted driver’s license will be revoked for two years.
For a third or subsequent offense within five years, a person who violates any of the above sections can be charged with another first-degree misdemeanor. However, the defendant will then be required to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000. In addition, the convicted driver’s license will be revoked for four years.
Statistics on Fatal Street Racing in Florida
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were a total of 3,056 crashes involving racing or “exhibition driving.” From those, 33 resulted in fatalities and 386 in serious injuries. This was an increase from 2019, when there were only 2,701 crashes with only 30 deaths and 352 serious injuries.
It’s important to note that not all of these recorded accidents were necessarily from street racing. “Exhibition driving” can also include speeding, performing stunts, or other forms of dangerous driving behavior.
If you or anyone you know has been charged with reckless driving, it is imperative that you speak with a legal representative in your area.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
When it comes to street racing, law enforcement in Florida is not taking any chances. A person who is accused of street racing can face harsh consequences such as paying expensive fines, imprisonment, and losing their license. While some may think racing others is harmless fun, the dangers of street racing are very real and could result in taking someone else’s life.
Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have worked with clients in Florida on a variety of criminal cases. We understand the stress a person charged with a crime is under. We vow to stand by your side throughout the whole process, and ensure all of your rights are protected. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website for a free consultation today.
Written by Karissa Key