Here in Massachusetts the weather is improving and “those” cars that do not handle so well in New England winter start to appear on the streets. Although drag racing, or racing of any kind on the streets, is a year round problem it is more common in the warmer months.
Regardless of the time of year, it is illegal and dangerous. In fact, since 2008 it is a criminal offense for some drivers.
The offense of drag racing is governed by M.G.L. c. 90 sec. 17B , however, if you are cited for drag racing you will likely be facing additional charges of a criminal and civil nature as well. Section17B states that “[n]o person shall operate a motor vehicle, nor shall any owner of such vehicle permit it to be operated, in a manner where the owner or operator accelerates at a high rate of speed in competition with another operator, whether or not there is an agreement to race, causing increased noise from skidding tires and amplified noise from racing engines.” The only requirements are that the operator 1) accelerates at a high rate of speed; 2) in competition with another vehicle; 3) causing increased noise from skidding tires; and 4) amplified noise from racing engines. An agreement to race is NOT required.
The penalties for drag racing are severe. If you are a junior operator, or have a learners permit, this is a civil motor vehicle infraction for which the current fine is $500.00 and a loss of license for no less than 30 days, or loss of learners permit for 1 year. A subsequent offender with a junior operator or individual with a learners permit will be fined $1,000.00, lose their license for no less than 60 days, or learner’s permit for 3 years. In order to get your license you must take and pass a driving test and if you had a learner’s permit you must reapply for your learners permit, both after you take an anti-road rage program and a course that “encourages attitudinal changes in young drivers who have committed a violation of the motor vehicle laws.”
An driver that is not a junior operator, or vehicle owner, will be facing criminal charges and if found guilty can be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in a House of Correction or a fine not more than $1,000.00, and a loss of license for not less than 30 days (180 days if a subsequent offense). If you are cited for or charged with the offense of drag racing you likely be also cited for other civil infractions such as speeding, or criminal charges such as negligent operation of a motor vehicle a/k/a operating to endanger or reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
While many get the urge to see what your vehicle is capable of, the streets are not the proper place. There are race tracks where you can bring your vehicles to and race in a supervised, controlled environment, such as New England Dragway in Epping, NH.
If you are cited for a criminal motor vehicle offense you are entitled to a Show Cause hearing before the criminal complaint enters, but must request it immediately (with 4 days of the citation) by signing the rear of the citation where indicated and filing it with the Clerk Magistrate of the appropriate District Court. You are permitted to be represented by counsel at the Show Cause hearing, but at this stage in the process you must retain your own attorney. If you are facing a criminal charges, relating to the operation of a motor vehicle or otherwise, consider contacting me today about my legal services.