Street Racing Incident May Expand Vehicle Seizure

by | Mar 29, 2015 | Criminal Defense
police impounding cars after illegal street racing

Although street racing may seem glamorous in the movies, in real life it carries serious consequences.  Due to recent events, the Los Angeles City Council is looking to expand police authority to seize vehicles involved in street racing.

“Hours after two spectators were killed and one was critically injured watching a street race in Chatsworth early Thursday, a Los Angeles City Council member pledged to introduce two ordinances today that would give authorities another weapon to fight such crimes.”

The proposed ordinance would allow police to seize and either sell or destroy a vehicle that is involved in street racing or reckless driving accidents that result in “great bodily harm or death”.  The penalty would extend to vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents with the same result.

Councilman Mitch Englander is proposing the ordinance in reaction to an incident Thursday where a driver lost control of his vehicle during a street race and plowed into a large crowd of spectators who had gathered to watch the race.  The driver fled the scene.  Police identified the driver as Henry Michael Gevorgyan and released his photo in an effort to enlist the public’s help in locating him.  One person died at the scene, a second died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, and a third remains hospitalized.  Captain John McMahon of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic division says, “we are pursuing murder charges against the driver of one of the vehicles and continue to investigate the role and responsibility of the other.”

Street racing is illegal. California Vehicle Code Section 23109(a) defines street racing offenses.  In order to convict a defendant charged with engaging in a speed contest, it must be shown that the defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway and while so driving the defendant engaged in a speed contest.  A person is engaged in a speed contest when he or she uses a car to race another vehicle, clock or other timing device.

A conviction carries a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 90 days, vehicle impoundment for at least 30 days, and payment of towing and storage fees.  Failure to pay storage fees results in a lien sale of the vehicle.  Anyone who aids or abets a street race also faces a maximum 90-day jail sentence.  Street racing can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.  In addition to any punishment, the court may order payment of restitution to any victim who is hurt during a street race.

There are several related offenses that can also be charged out of a street racing incident.  These include speeding, reckless driving, and driving under the influence.  If you or someone you know has been charged with engaging in a street race it is important to hire an experienced attorney who can explain your rights and defend your case.  The Rodriguez Law Group aggressively represents its clients to achieve the best possible outcome in any case.  If you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles please call our office today.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.