When TX2K — sometimes called the Super Bowl of street racing — comes to Houston, questions about racing on a highway in Texas start flooding in. Before you know it, summer break is here, along with the warm and idle nights on which the whole gang gets together to see if that souped-up Civic is really as fast as that Mustang. But some people get a little carried away and decide to try it for themselves. 

What happens if you get caught street racing in Texas and can’t outrun the police? The cruisers are getting upgrades, and the days of outrunning the Crown Victoria, because it tops out at 80 miles an hour, are long gone. Is racing on a highway a felony in Texas? Will they automatically suspend my license? Impound my car?

The Houston criminal lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to answer all of these questions and more, so that you will have all of the information you need about charges for racing on a highway in Texas, and can make a decision about how to get yourself back behind the wheel. 

How do you get racing on a highway charge in Texas?

The racing on a highway Texas penal code is located in Texas Transportation Code § 545.420, which states that “a person cannot participate in any manner 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.”

It defines a race as “the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt 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 long-distance driving.”

It further defines “drag race” 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.

In order to be convicted of racing on a highway in Texas, the prosecution will need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the activity being engaged in was indeed racing. Because these charges compound in severity, the penalties for racing on a highway in Texas first offense will be much less severe than they will be for a repeat offender.

Is racing on a highway a felony in Texas? 

It can be! The base charge for racing on a highway is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, although it can be enhanced all the way up to a second-degree felony. The charge for street racing in Texas will be a:

  • Class B misdemeanor if it is your first time being charged with the crime and there are no aggravating factors present. 
  • Class A misdemeanor if you have been previously convicted for racing on a highway, were operating the vehicle while intoxicated, or had an open container at the time of the operation.
  • State jail felony if you have previously been convicted twice of racing on a highway in Texas. 
  • Third-degree felony if, as a result of the racing offense, another party suffered bodily injury.
  • Second-degree felony if, as a result of the racing offense, another party suffered serious bodily injury or death. 

Another likely scenario is that if your racing results in the serious injury or death of another party — even a passenger or another person racing — a conviction will lead to you serving a sentence for vehicular manslaughter, with the racing on a highway charge as an addition. 

What is the penalty for racing on the highway in Texas?

The penalties for racing on a highway in Texas will depend entirely on the circumstances of the crime, and therefore what charge is incurred.  

ChargeMaximum FineMaximum Jail Time
Class B Misdemeanor$2,000180 Days
Class A Misdemeanor$4,0001 Year
State Jail Felony$10,0002 Years
Third-Degree Felony$10,00010 Years in Prison
Second-Degree Felony$10,00020 Years in Prison

Even if you’re not drinking and no one ever gets hurt, racing on a highway charges become pretty severe for repeat offenders. You could be on the world’s emptiest road, endangering no one but yourself — but if the police decide to arrest you, and you’ve been down this road before, you could be spending many years in prison. 

Will your license be automatically suspended for street racing in Texas?

If you are convicted of racing on a highway in Texas, your license will automatically be suspended for one year, per Texas Transportation Code § 545.420. 

Not only that but you’ll be required to perform community service, as well as take mandatory driver’s safety courses to get your license back. A conviction for racing on a highway in Texas can keep you from getting behind the wheel for years if you don’t go about it correctly, and result in a license revocation if you do try to drive. 

Here’s the thing: it’s hard to keep people out of the driver’s seat. People often end up making things much worse for themselves by getting convicted and then getting behind the wheel again because they love to drive. We understand that you’re not just going to stop loving performance vehicles — or wanting to drive fast in them — so you need to fight these charges with everything you’ve got. 

Busted for racing on a highway in Texas? Contact the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm for representation.

Charges for racing on a highway in Texas are serious and repeat offenders can expect exponential repercussions — if they’re convicted. 

Your best chance at avoiding conviction and remaining free is hiring the right attorney for your case. Don’t hire just any attorney. Many of them will take your case (and their fee) and attempt to plead down to a lesser conviction, saving them time and ultimately, doing nothing for you. What you need is a trial attorney. One who knows how to take a case to trial, argue in front of a judge or jury, and win — like the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm. 

Whether your child was caught racing and you need a juvenile defense attorneyor you just got busted for the third time and need a serious attorney to keep you out of prison, Thiessen Law Firm can help. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation. 

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.