Drag Racing: Here’s what you need to know about the penalties in Michigan

DETROIT- As we enter the summer months in Michigan, a growing trend of illegal Drag Racing has become common among young drivers, forcing some police departments to step up their patrolling.

The Detroit Police Department has spoken out against the nuisance. These types of activities have led to serious injuries and deaths in the last two months. In May, an erratic driver on the city’s east side lost control of his car, leading to the death of a 10 year old girl.

Detroit Police is now ramping up presence in areas where residents have complained about large gatherings that have led to illegal street racing.

The activity seems to be especially prominent near the water in Downtown Detroit. Large groups of drivers gather in groups to compete against other drivers to see who can do the best “burnouts.”

So what are the penalties in Michigan for Drag Racing? We will break it down for you.

Drag Racing Penalties in Michigan

The Michigan Code 257.626a states the following:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any vehicle upon any highway, or any other place open to the general public, including any area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, within this state, in a speed or acceleration contest or for the purpose of making a speed record, whether from a standing start or otherwise over a measured or unmeasured distance, or in a drag race as herein defined.”

“‘Drag racing’ means the operation of 2 or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to out-distance each other over a common selected course or where timing is involved or where timing devices are used in competitive accelerations of speeds by participating vehicles. Persons rendering assistance in any manner to such competitive use of vehicles shall be equally charged as participants. The operation of 2 or more vehicles either at speeds in excess of prima facie lawfully established speeds or rapidly accelerating from a common starting point to a speed in excess of such prima facie lawful speed is prima facie evidence of drag racing and is unlawful.”

The penalty for street racing or drag racing is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both.

Although there are no license sanctions with this offense, a conviction will add 4 points to the defendant’s driving record (which cannot be avoided by taking the basic driver improvement course).

Since this is a misdemeanor, it is considered a crime that will remain on your permanent criminal record. Criminal traffic offenses are not currently available for expungement.

In addition, upon arrest, your car is likely to be towed and amount to hundreds of dollars in additional costs to retain it back.

Here are some other items that pertain to “drag racing”:

Actual Excess of Speed Limit Not Required: If two vehicles leave a stoplight and accelerate up to the speed limit “in a competitive attempt to out-distance each other over a common selected course or where timing is involved,” then both drivers may be found guilty of drag racing.

Actual Racing Not Required: Anyone “rendering assistance in any manner to such competitive use of vehicles shall be equally charged as participants”. This includes spectators that are either keeping time or watching for the police.

Since this offense is a misdemeanor, the accused will be required to personally appear in district court to answer for this offense. The defendant can either elect to work out a resolution with the prosecutor or stand trial for the offense and have a judge or jury decide guilt or innocence.

The maximum penalty can be up to 90 days in jail, which is much greater than an average traffic ticket. A driver facing such a serious charge is better off with an attorney who will protect their rights. A lawyer can work out a solution with the prosecutor that may involve minimizing the offense to a non-criminal infraction. In some cases or circumstances, they can even negotiate a dismissal.

Traffic Court Buddy can help!

At Traffic Court Buddy, we believe that every individual should have access to legal representation for any traffic-related charges. From tickets to forfeiture of vehicles, we make it our mission to help provide all the facts to help ensure you receive the minimum possible penalties for any alleged infraction. If you need traffic court representation, reach out today!