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  • Writer's pictureGregory Sandler


Anyone out there remember Dead Man’s Curve, the 1964 song by Jan & Dean? A tragic story about teenagers drag racing. How many of you have seen Fast and Furious 1 through 7? People — ESPECIALLY YOUNG PEOPLE– (as well as Vin Diesel) don’t always appreciate the dangers associated with the operation of motor vehicles under even normal circumstances. That being said, it is more frightening to think about the possible outcomes of illegal drag racing. THINK ABOUT IT! Kids, who think they’re indestructible, racing cars at high rates of speed on public roads populated with unsuspecting drivers!

Drag racing, also known as illegal street racing, has been a part of our culture almost since the invention of the automobile. After all, we raced horses when they were our common mode of transportation. Why not race cars? Every generation of automobiles has had its complement of glamorous high performance models such as corvettes and mustangs. On top of that, gearheads have always modified regular “stock” cars to increase power. Today’s NASCAR racing is the epitome of the souped-up stock car and the National Hot Rod Association drag races are broadcast on television to huge audiences.

Popular movies and songs throughout the years have romanticized young people gathering on the outskirts of town to settle drag racing challenges. In recent, more technologically advanced years, the group that calls itself “Mischief” has staged races that are filmed and put up on Internet sites such as YouTube. A publicized racing incident involving the group in 2012 resulted in a multi-county high speed chase after which 15 members were caught and cited.

Despite all the romantic and nostalgic ruminations of drag racing, the fact remains that it is dangerous and illegal. Numerous people are injured and killed in highway crashes every year, and reckless driving, particularly racing, is no doubt responsible for its fair share.

To discourage illegal racing, the Commonwealth has statutory provisions to deal harshly with offenders. Virginia Code § 46.2-865 turns racing into reckless driving. Virginia Code § 46.2-867 states that when a vehicle owner has been convicted of participating as a driver or passenger (in his car) in a race that has been pre-arranged, organized, and planned, his car will be FORFEITED TO THE STATE.

State law section 46.1-865.1 also sets a severe penalty for a race participant who causes a fatality. A participant, not just a driver, who acts “in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life” is guilty of a felony and will serve no less than one, and as many as 20 YEARS IN JAIL.

In addition to criminal sanctions, race participants will most certainly be liable for injuries to others. The statutory language setting the standard for a felony conviction is essentially the same as the legal standard for the most severe degree of negligence under Virginia tort law. This could be a SLAM DUNK case of negligence. Click here to read our blog on degrees of negligence under Virginia law.

If you are the victim of a car wreck caused by illegal street racing, Call Sandler Law Group – toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at or email at

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