This scenario may not be that much of an issue in some of the more rural areas of the state, but it certainly has become of keen interest to law enforcement in more populous metropolitan areas. In major metropolitan areas such as; metro Atlanta, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Marietta and others there has been a concerted effort to crack down on illegal street racing or drag racing.
It's become such a problem that Georgia's lawmakers are even considering toughening the penalties for those convicted of street racing. Georgia Senate Bill SB10, introduced by Dekalb County Senator Emanuel Jones would increase the fines and penalties for those convicted of street racing. Among other provisions the new law would create a special registration for those types of vehicles that often participate in street racing, i.e., those with modified engines of 650 horsepower or more, those arrested for street racing would have their cars impounded until their case is resolved, it would also go after organizers and spectators of such events making the crime a ‘high and aggravating misdemeanor' carrying a minimum fine of $2,500.
It's reasonable and perfectly understandable for lawmakers and law enforcement to crack down on racing. After all, this type of activity is a serious threat to public safety and bystanders or spectators have actually been killed at such events by street racers that lost control of their vehicle during the event.
But what you need to know about Georgia's existing laws against such activity is that you can just as easily be arrested for street racing even if you were not actually racing against anyone and even if you were simply just driving over the speed limit.
THERE WERE NO OTHER CARS AROUND SO HOW CAN I BE CHARGED WITH DRAG RACING?
Georgia's current statute on street racing (§ 40-6-186. Racing on highways or streets)
comprises of two main elements; drag racing and racing. Under the “Drag Racing” element a driver can be convicted under the statute if two or more vehicles are side by side in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other. This is typically what we think of when we think of drag racing. It's really clear in everyone's mind that this is drag racing and most mature people simply are not going to engage in this type behavior. However, there is another part to this first element.
One can also be convicted of drag racing by the operation of one or more vehicles over a common selected course from the same point to 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. Under the second part of this first element it's possible to be convicted in a situation in which you could have just as easily been given a speeding ticket and sent on your way.
CONSIDER THIS HYPOTHETICAL:
Driver comes to a stop at a red light. The intersection in question is the start of a quarter mile stretch that is a notorious site of illegal drag racing. There are no other cars in site and driver is just itching to see how fast he can make it through the quarter mile. At the green light he floors it and reaches 110 mph, more double the speed limit. Even though he did not act in concert with any other driver, heck even though there were no other drivers anywhere near the scene, he could surely be arrested and charged with drag racing and, in the metro Atlanta area, he probably would be.
BUT I WAS ONLY SPEEDING!
Under the “Racing” element a driver can be convicted under the statute if he attempts to outgain, outdistance, or prevent another vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes. Under this element one could be arrested for simply trying to merge into the flow of traffic. Who among us have not sped up, or literally had to floor it in order to get onto I85 or I285 before we run out of lane? The language of this second element literally describes that action, (attempts to outgain, outdistance, or prevent another vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle).
The bottom line is, those that violate the existing laws against street racing or drag racing should be arrested and prosecuted. However, there are many of us that will get arrest and prosecuted who are truly innocent. If it's a close call, and the cop isn't quite sure whether you were racing or not, guess what, you're getting arrested for racing. The Fleming Firm has been successful in defending these types of cases and getting the racing charged dropped altogether. If you've been arrested for street racing or drag racing, or any other criminal offense give us a call and let's discuss your case.
Contact Attorney Preston Fleming at The Fleming Firm to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION. He can be reached at (770)727-0599, (844)DUI-LAW1 or [email protected]. You can also simply complete the contact form atwww.theflemingfirm.com and submit it. Attorney Fleming himself will reach out to you within 24 hours.