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street racing and stunting

Laws prohibiting street racing, drag racing, and other motor vehicle speed and endurance competitions—as well as stunt exhibitions—vary from state to state. These laws are usually located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal code or criminal code—and generally prohibit drivers from participating in:

• a race;

• a vehicle speed competition or contest;

• a drag race or acceleration contest;

• a test of physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle; or

• in connection with a drag race, an exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration or to make a vehicle speed record.

Drag race may be defined as the operation of:

• two or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other; or

• one or more vehicles over a common selected course, from the same place to the same place, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of the vehicle or vehicles in a specified distance or time.

Race is defined as the use of one or more vehicles attempting to:

• outgain or outdistance another vehicle or prevent another vehicle from passing;

• arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles; or

• test the physical stamina or endurance of an operator over a long-distance driving route.

Illegal stunt driving or stunting usually involves a parking lot or blocked off street where drivers use their vehicles to perform stunts, such as driving on two wheels; “doing donuts” by spinning the car in a circle; or drifting while turning a corner.

In Texas, street racing, drag racing, and other related motor vehicle speed and endurance competitions, as well as stunt exhibitions, are prohibited under the Texas Transportation Code. Specifically, Section 545.420 of the Texas Transportation Code addresses 'Racing on Highway,' making it illegal to participate in a race, vehicle speed competition, drag race, acceleration contest, test of physical endurance of the operator, or any exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration intended to make a speed record on a highway. The law defines a 'race' as the use of one or more vehicles to outdistance others, arrive at a destination first, or test endurance over a long-distance route. A 'drag race' is defined as two or more vehicles accelerating side by side in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other, or one or more vehicles racing over a selected course from the same point to the same point. Engaging in these activities is considered a criminal offense, and penalties can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the circumstances and whether it is a repeat offense. Additionally, Texas law may impose penalties for reckless driving, which can encompass some forms of stunt driving or stunting.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

23 U.S.C. § 402 - Highway Safety Programs
While specific laws against street racing are typically state-level statutes, federal law does provide guidance and funding for highway safety programs, which can encompass measures against street racing.

This statute outlines the national highway safety program, which aims to reduce traffic accidents and deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from traffic accidents. The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to use funds to assist state and local governments in developing and implementing highway safety programs. These programs often include provisions for traffic law enforcement, which would cover illegal racing and stunt driving activities. The statute encourages states to adopt and implement effective programs to improve driver performance and to enforce laws relating to highway safety, which would include laws against street racing and related activities.

18 U.S.C. § 231 - Civil Disorders
Although not directly addressing street racing, this statute can be relevant if street racing leads to civil disorder or obstructs law enforcement efforts to maintain public order.

This statute makes it unlawful for any person to teach or demonstrate the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder. While street racing is not explicitly mentioned, if such activities escalate to the point where they interfere with law enforcement's ability to maintain public safety or contribute to civil unrest, participants could potentially be charged under this statute.

23 U.S.C. § 153 - Use of Safety Belts and Motorcycle Helmets
This statute is relevant as it provides incentives for states to enact and enforce safety belt and motorcycle helmet use laws, which can indirectly affect street racing by promoting safety measures that may reduce the occurrence of such activities.

This statute provides grant incentives to states that have enacted and are enforcing a law that requires the use of safety belts in passenger vehicles and helmets for motorcyclists. While not directly prohibiting street racing, the enforcement of safety belt and helmet laws can contribute to a culture of safety on the roads and discourage dangerous driving behaviors associated with street racing and stunt driving.

49 U.S.C. § 30103 - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Authority
The NHTSA has the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet federal safety standards, which can impact vehicles modified for street racing.

This statute grants the NHTSA the authority to regulate motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment safety standards. The NHTSA can order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles or equipment that have safety-related defects or do not comply with federal safety standards. Modified vehicles used in street racing often have aftermarket parts that may not meet safety standards, and this statute can be used to address such modifications that compromise vehicle safety.