Felony Hit and Run: Street Racing


In Los Angeles County, L.A. Councilman Mitch Englander is proposing a harsher punishment for hit-and- runs with serious injury or death that results from street racing.  The proposal reads: Street racing and/or hit-and-runs that cause serious injury or death gives the police the ability to seize and either sell or destroy vehicles from such crashes.

This law applies only when street racing is involved, and does not applied in Felony Hit-and-Run cases that do not have an element of street racing.  Below, I will discuss a classic example of how this proposal will apply, and under what conditions.


Let me first discuss the crime of street racing.  California VC Section 23109(a): Engaging In A Speed Contest is a misdemeanor crime punishable by between one and ninety days in jail and between $355 to $1,000 fine.   40 hours of community service also must be served, and the defendant’s driving privileges can be suspended for a maximum of 6 months.  If the speed contest causes bodily injury to another person, the defendant must serve a minimum of 30 days in jail.  A defendant is guilty of street racing if he/she drove a motor vehicle on a highway, and while driving, the defendant willfully engaged in a speed contest.

A similar charge to Engaging In A Speed Contest is Wreckless Driving under California VC 23103: Dry Reckless.  In the alternative of VC 23109(a), the D.A. can also charge VC 23103 in cases of street racing.  A defendant is guilty of Wreckless Driving if he/she drove a vehicle on a highway or in an off-street parking facility, and he/she intentionally drove with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Theoretically speaking, street racing can meet both elements of both crimes, and it is up to the D.A. to determine under what statute he/she will be prosecuting the defendant under.


Hit-and-Run is a wobbler, and can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.  The applicable statute is VC 20001.  A Hit-and-Run is a misdemeanor when only damage to property is involved.  Essentially, if you are involved in an accident that damages property, and you leave the scene, you are guilty of a misdemeanor hit-and-run.

On the other hand, a hit-and-run becomes a felony when an accident causes a serious injury or death to another person as a result of the accident, and the defendant leaves the scene.  California requires that someone involved in an accident stop and remain on the scene to provide identification to the other parties involved and/or law enforcement.  Additionally, if someone is hurt, one is required to provide reasonable help to any injured party, such as calling an ambulance.  This applies regardless of who is at fault and who caused the accident.  If failure to stop after an accident results in serious injury or even death, then the individual who left the scene will most likely be charged with a Felony Hit-and-Run, which is punishable by a prison term between 24 to 48 months.


When street racing results in serious injury or death to an individual (not the defendant), and the defendant leaves the scene without providing identification, and failing to stop to provide reasonable aid to the seriously injured, then the police will have the right to seize and either sell or destroy vehicles from such crashes.

This law does not apply to felony hit-and-runs by themselves.  This applies in cases where street racing is involved, and the street racing is the proximate cause of the serious injury or death of an individual not the defendant, and the defendant leaves the scene without providing identification and assistance to the injured regardless of fault.

In conclusion, this is the proposed harsher penalties for hit-and-runs.  This is not officially law yet, but it looks like it will pass and be the law in Los Angeles County.  If you want are a loved one are charged with street racing and felony hit-and-run causing serious injury or death, contact:

Law Offices of Jeffery K. Rubenstein
9461 Charleville Blvd # 267
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 477-2100
We can help!

BY: Young Sik Cho Attorney at Law

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