In a case with both civil and criminal law implications, a street racer lost control of his car and slammed into another vehicle.
The wreck occurred in the 1400 block of Northeast 28th Street. According to police and witnesses, two vehicles were racing each other when one driver lost control of his vehicle. That car careened into another, non-racing vehicle. The two men in the racing vehicle were rushed to a nearby hospital. Only one of them survived. Two bystanders in the other vehicle were also hospitalized.
The other racers involved fled the scene before emergency responders arrived.
Texas’ Street Racing Law
Interestingly, “racing” is not always an element of Texas Transportation Code § 545.420, which is the main street racing law in Tarrant County. This provision applies if a driver tries to:
Outdistance another driver,
Test the physical limits of the driver or vehicle,
Prevent another driver from passing, or
Arrive someplace ahead of another vehicle.
Many motorists see many of these behaviors on their way to and from work each day. But if there was no collision, street racing charges do not hold up in court.
Violating the street racing law is normally a Class B misdemeanor. Driver intoxication, an open container, or a previous street racing conviction raises the charges to a Class A misdemeanor. Street racing may also be a felony, depending on the severity of the crash.
Collision-related cases are notoriously difficult to prove in court. By the time emergency responders arrive, the driver has usually exited the vehicle. So, police officers cannot testify that the defendant was driving the car. Even if the defendant tells officers he was driving, that statement is normally not admissible in court.
As for disposition options, street racing is not a violent crime, but not a nonviolent one either. There is unintentional violence. So, pretrial diversion may or may not be available. Given the possible defenses discussed above, a plea may not be the best option anyway.
Street Racing and Vehicle Collisions
On the civil side of things, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies in street racing collision claims. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) may be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
They violate a safety law, and
That violation substantially caused the injury.
Legal excuse and justification are normally defenses to negligence per se. Depending on the facts, these defenses may be available. Races like these are never justifiable. But cutting someone off in traffic may be a different story.
Generally, Tarrant County jurors award large damages in negligence per se cases. Typically, the tortfeasor brazenly broke the law and intentionally put other people at risk. Vehicle collision damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Many vehicle collisions have civil and criminal law implications. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.