Drag Racing in Arizona (A.R.S. §28-708)
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In Arizona, per A.R.S. §28-708, “Drag Racing” or “Racing on Highways” occurs when any person drives a vehicle or participates in any manner in a race, speed competition, contest, drag race, acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, or exhibition of speed or acceleration, or to make a speed record on any street or highway.
Overview of Illegal Drag Racing / Racing on Highways / Street Racing
The term Drag Racing means either the operation of two (2) or more vehicles from a point side by side and accelerating in order to have a competitive attempt to outdistance each other, or the operation of one (1) or more vehicles over a common selected course and from the same point for the purposes of comparing relative speeds or power of acceleration of the vehicles within a certain distance or time. “Racing” means the use of one (1) or more vehicles in an attempt to out gain or out-distance another vehicle or prevent another vehicle from passing.
Many times drivers are confused when an officer cites them for “Drag Racing” or “Racing” for what they may think is normal driving behavior, but technically fits in to one of the definitions of illegal behavior described above. For example, while driving on the highway sometimes drivers get upset and attempt to “play games” whereby they try to prevent somebody from passing their vehicle, or they retaliate against someone who might have cut them off. You might think you are doing nothing wrong, but the police in Arizona would disagree with you.
If you have been charged with Drag Racing in Phoenix or Arizona you need the best legal representation possible. DM Cantor are available 24/7 to discuss your case. Call 602-307-0808 or fill out our contact form for a Free Consultation.
Possible Punishment for Drag Racing / Racing on Highways
For a first offense of “Drag Racing” or “Racing on Highways” is a class one (1) misdemeanor. The range of punishment for a class one (1) misdemeanor ranges from the following:
- Probation with anywhere from zero (0) days in jail up to six (6) months in jail, and a fine of up to $2500.00 plus an 84% surcharge.
- In addition to the class one (1) misdemeanor punishment, the judge can order the suspension of the person’s driver’s license for ninety (90) days, the driver must pay a $250 fine, and may be ordered to do community service.
If a person is convicted of a second racing offense within 24 months of the first offense, they can be charged with a class six (6) felony. The punishments for a first offense a class six (6) felony can be:
- Probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of four (4) months to two (2) years.
- If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is nine (9) months to two and three quarters (2.75) years in prison.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) to five and three quarters (5.75) years of incarceration.
- In addition to the class six (6) felony punishment, the driver must pay a $500 fine, could be ordered to perform community service, and the DMV will order the revocation of their driver’s license.
Possible Defense for Drag Racing / Racing on Highways
When defending against a “Drag Racing” charge, it is important to argue that there was no second vehicle involved in a “competitive contest”. Obviously, it is very difficult for an officer to stop two persons at once, so usually the prosecutor relies on the officer’s testimony that it “appeared” a second vehicle was involved, in order to try and prove the crime of Drag Racing.
In regards to “Racing on the Highways” the officer will normally testify that the defendant sped up in order to prevent somebody from passing, or was weaving in and out of traffic along with a second vehicle. If it can be shown that the defendant was completely unaware of the second vehicle’s presence, then he is technically not guilty of “racing” anybody. In addition, many times people are trying to get away from somebody who is experiencing road rage.
If it can be shown that the driving was not a result of racing, but instead was due to fleeing out of necessity and fear, then this can be a defense to the charge of Drag Racing or Racing on the Highways. It will be important to find and interview any independent witnesses (such as passengers in the car) and present other evidence that indicates fleeing in fear. Obviously, if the defendant was the lead vehicle, this defense makes sense; if the defendant was the vehicle in the rear, then this is not a suitable defense and another one will have to be found. If at all possible, we will attempt to plead the case down to a lesser charge.
Because we are a very aggressive law firm, we will attack your Drag Racing/ Racing on Highway charge, and any other charges that you may face, from all angles. In addition to the defenses discussed above, there are numerous defenses that can be asserted in any criminal case. These defenses include challenges to violations of your constitutional rights, including violating your Miranda rights. In Arizona, the standard of whether any inculpatory statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements. The denial of your constitutional right to Counsel is another common defense which we often raise. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but the request is denied and questioning continues.
Other possible defenses that may apply if you are facing other charges as well as your Drag Racing/ Racing on Highway charge may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Lastly, one of the most important defense tools is exposing untruthful, sloppy, or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups, and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction.
If you have not been charged with Drag Racing/Racing on Highways yet, read more about the “Pre-charge Investigation Stage” of your case.