Is Drag Racing Legal?
Wisconsin statutes specifically state that “no operator of a motor vehicle shall participate in any race or speed or endurance contest upon any highway.” The penalty for street racing in Wisconsin is a fine ranging from $20 to $400, points added to your driving record, increased insurance premiums, driver’s license suspension, and more. Not to mention, you could be held equally responsible as the driver for street racing if you merely spectate the event. That’s right — spectators could face the same penalties as street racers.
This is not Fast and Furious, so if you have a need for speed, we encourage you to take it to the tracks. Police officers are putting the brakes on illegal street racing activity in Wisconsin, meaning you are better off avoiding the streets and going to the tracks if you want to street race. As you can see from the consequences we mentioned above, drag racing simply isn’t worth it.
Street Racing Increases During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Several states throughout the US saw a sharp spike in illegal street racing incidents during the pandemic. With fewer people on the roads and more people staying at home, street racers had more opportunities to get out on the roads without interference from other drivers. We are slowly but surely seeing this pandemic come to an end, meaning more people are driving on and walking around the roads, therefore, you should avoid illegal street racing. This will not only spare you the legal consequences but importantly, the lives of you, your passengers, and others around you.
Speeding Tickets for Street Racing
The most common traffic ticket a person can get for street racing is a speeding ticket. If the incident didn’t result in injuries, death, property damage, or other negative impacts, then you could walk away with a $200 to an $800+ fine, a suspended driver’s license, up to 6 points added to your record, and other consequences.
Reckless Driving & Illegal Drag Racing
One could argue that street racing is a form of reckless driving. This is often how law enforcement officers think about it.
Reckless driving in Wisconsin occurs when a person endangers the safety of any person or property by negligently operating their vehicle, causing bodily harm to another person by negligently operating their vehicle, or causing great bodily harm by doing such. As such, if you were illegally street racing and struck a pedestrian, for instance, you could face reckless driving charges. The punishment for reckless driving is a $50 to $500 fine and/or up to 1 year in the county jail, 6 points added to your record, driver’s license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and more.
Can You Get Manslaughter Charges for Street Racing?
Unlike many other states, Wisconsin does not have a manslaughter law. Instead, manslaughter is called homicide. Illegal street racing isn’t considered intentional homicide or murder but it may be charged as a second-degree reckless homicide instead, which occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another. Second-degree reckless homicide is a Class D felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. If an unborn child died in the crash, the charge remains a Class D felony.
Murder Charges for Illegal Street Racing
You cannot get murder charges for illegal street racing in Wisconsin. Instead, you could get accused of first-degree reckless homicide, which occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another human being under circumstances that show an utter disregard for human life. First-degree reckless homicide in Wisconsin is a Class B felony punishable by up to 60 years in prison.
The reason you may get charged for first-degree reckless homicide rather than second-degree reckless homicide is if you knowingly street raced in a crowded area, for instance. Knowingly and intentionally drag racing in a busy street could make you seem like you have an utter disregard for human life. On the other hand, if you street raced on an empty backroad with virtually no other vehicles or people nearby, you could be charged with second-degree reckless homicide because those circumstances may not show an utter disregard for human life.
Ultimately, however, your charges depend on what the prosecutor makes your situation out to be.
Defending Accusations for Illegal Street Racing
Our attorney understands that we all make mistakes, but no one should get a traffic ticket or criminal charges as a result of their accident. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, our lawyer may be able to negotiate for reduced or dismissed charges on your behalf. As a former prosecutor with over 25 years of legal experience, attorney Christopher Cherella is your trusted advocate when you’re in trouble.
Schedule your consultation online or at (414) 882-8382 today!