Traffic Law

Street Racing

Street racing (or drag racing) offences are taken seriously by the Courts and depending on the circumstances, can attract severe penalties, including a term of imprisonment.

The Law

Pursuant to section 115 of the Road Transport Act 2013, a person must not organise, promote or take part in:

(a) any race between vehicles on a road or road related area, or

(b) any attempt to break any vehicle speed record on a road or road related area, or

(c) any trial of the speed of a vehicle on a road or road related area, or

(d) any competitive trial designed to test the skill of a driver or the reliability or mechanical condition of any vehicle on a road or road related area,

unless first obtaining the written approval of the police.

Penalties 

The following table sets out street racing penalties for offences in NSW:

Penalties

First Offence

Second or Subsequent Major Offence

Maximum court imposed fine

$3,300

$3,300

Maximum gaol term

-

9 months

Automatic disqualification period

12 months

12 months

Maximum disqualification period

Unlimited

Unlimited


Unlike with many other serious traffic offences, for any charge of street racing, the Court also has the discretion to reduce the disqualification period below 12 months to a period that is determine by the Court. Many lawyers are not aware of the Court's discretion and forget to advise the Court that it exists.

As well as these penalties the Police have the power to impose an immediate licence suspension which, unless successfully appealed, remains in place until the charge is determined by the Court. 

Vehicle impounding and other sanctions

The NSW Police have the power to confiscate the vehicle driven at the time of the offence and impound it for a period of 3 months. If the vehicle is owned by someone else, then the police may issue the owner with a warning notice, that if the vehicle is found to be committing a similar offence in the future, it will be confiscated for a period of 3 months.

Instead of confiscating and impounding a vehicle, police also have the option of confiscating the number plates, instead.

Police can also give the driver or registered owner of the vehicle a notice requiring that the vehicle be produced at a specified place within 10 days. If the vehicle is not produced there are severe penalties that can be imposed by the Court.

When a court finds a person guilty of a street racing offence, where the driver is also the registered owner of the vehicle, for a second or subsequent offence the vehicle may be forfeited to the Crown and may be sold or used for crash testing by the RMS. 

Therefore, in addition to the severe penalties that a street racing charge attracts, one must take into account the possibility of the offending vehicle being impounded or forfeited. 

Commentary

Whether or not a street racing offence has been committed is not always obvious or cut and dry. Not all street racing occurs in an organised setting, where people gather for the specific purpose of racing their cars. The most common scenario that drivers find themselves charged with the offence is where the police simply allege that they witnessed two or more cars driving along side each other at excessive speeds. Although speeding is not an element of the offence, it is unusual for someone to be charged with street racing without the police alleging that the driver was speeding at the time.

Despite police relying on evidence of two or more drivers speeding within close proximity of each other, something more is usually required to prove that the offence has been committed. For example, it may otherwise be that one driver is trying to overtake the other or that both drivers are speeding, but independently of each other.

At Prime Lawyers, we argue that there must be a "meeting of the minds", at some point in time, to race. Two people cannot be racing each other if it is not clear to both of them that both are intending to do so.

For an example of a successful defence, see one of our feature case studies on defending a street racing charge here.

Our traffic lawyers have a wealth of experience and knowledge in this field of law. If you are pleading guilty to a street racing charge we are able to appear at Court with you and make submissions on your behalf to minimise the penalty the Court imposes. We can also make applications on your behalf for the return of a vehicle from being impounded. Of course, as illustrated, we can also advise you if you have available to you a defence and if so, run a successful defence on your behalf.

If you have been charged with a street racing offence, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Traffic Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with one of our traffic lawyers at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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