Lesson 3 from Parker County Roadrunner and his Criminal Defense Attorney: Racing on the Highway
How fast do you have to be going before you get stopped for speeding? If you are going even 1 mile over the posted speed limit or driving at a speed unsafe for the conditions, you are violating the law. The 1 mile over the limit is practically unenforceable. Most people know that there is a little bit of a cushion above the speed limit. The real question today issue facing my friend Parker County Roadrunner (a.k.a. “PC”) is “When does speeding become something for which I can go to jail?”
PC was driving around loop 820 one night in north Fort Worth. He was driving his Honda Civic which his buddies had tweaked and enhanced. That little Civic could run faster than any Honda you could buy at a dealership. A guy in a Mustang GT and another supped-up Honda were in front of PC. PC was following the other two vehicles which were using the multiple lanes of loop 820 to weave and move through the light traffic present at 1:30 in the morning.
PC looked up and saw the dreaded red and blue lights in his mirror and pulled over. He was clocked doing 86 miles per hour in the 70 mile per hour zone. He knew he was going to get a ticket for speeding. Because PC was only 18 years old, he knew he was going to have to tell his dad. He was already dreading what the next morning might bring at home. PC pulled his insurance and driver’s license even before the police officer made it to the window.
The first words from the officer were, “I need you to step out of your vehicle.” PC got out of his Honda and the officer had him step to the back of the car and had PC put his hands on the back of the car. The officer then placed PC in handcuffs and instructed, “I am going to pat you down for weapons. Do you have any contraband, weapons, and anything which could poke or prick me on your person?” PC responded, “No, sir,” and then asked, “What is going on?” The office said, “I am placing you under arrest for racing on a highway.”
Racing on Highway is found in the Texas Transportation Code Section 545.420. The Transportation Code provides that a person may not participate in any manner in:
(1) a race;
(2) a vehicle speed competition or contest;
(3) a drag race or acceleration contest;
(4) a test of physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle; or
(5) in connection with a drag race, an exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration or to make a vehicle speed record.
A first offense is a Class B Misdemeanor and carries the possibility of a 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine. Further, Section 521.350 of the Transportation Code provides that a conviction for racing on the highway is an automatic suspension of a driver’s license for one year.
PC was taken into custody. His car was towed. At 18 years old, PC spent a night in jail until his dad bonded him out the next morning. Dad was not happy.
I go to court with PC and talk to the Assistant District Attorney. PC was not racing the other two guys, but because he was following them and appeared to be encouraging the race he was participating in the race. The ADA offers 12 months deferred adjudication, which means that PC’s license would not automatically be suspended. We ask for a couple of weeks to think about it. PC tells me, “Mr. Decker, this sucks. My dad made me sell my car and I am still in trouble with the court.”
With that information I contacted the ADA informing him that PC’s dad made PC sell the car. Would that sway him any in the offer? The ADA said, “Yeah, the kid is being punished at home. Bring me a bill of sale and I will give him 9 months deferred.” GREAT! PC told me, “I’ll bring it with me next week.”
We show-up to take the deal and PC says, “Mr. Decker, I forgot the bill of sale.” About 30 minutes later, PC plead to racing on the highway with a 12 month deferred adjudication. Two things every client must know. One, show-up for court. Two, if your attorney tells you to bring something to court, bring it with you to court.
Whether for a speeding ticket or for a more serious offense, I can help in Tarrant, Parker, and surrounding counties. Call me, Andrew Decker. I am a criminal defense attorney.