Racing and Exhibition of Speed

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What does the law say about racing?

A person shall not drive a vehicle or participate in any manner in a race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance or exhibition of speed or acceleration or for the purpose of making a speed record on a street or highway. A.R.S. § 28-708(A)

 What’s the difference between Racing and Exhibition of Speed?

As you probably guessed, racing generally involves 2 or more cars. We generally see a racing charge arising from two cars racing each other away from a stoplight or engaging in an acceleration contest on the highway.

We usually see exhibition of speed charges involving only a single car. Things like squealing tires around a corner, doing a burnout, doing donuts, or accelerating hard away from a stop sign or light can result in an exhibition of speed charge.

Although the statute is the same, the description the citing officer writes on the ticket (either “racing” or “exhibition of speed”) depends upon the factual basis for the charge.

What Are The Penalties For An Racing or Exhibition of Speed Conviction?

9These are the consequences that are possible under the law:


  • A class 1 misdemeanor conviction
  • Fines up to $2,500 plus surcharges and court assessments that could nearly double the total fine, plus another $1,000 penalty.
  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • Up to 3 years probation
  • The judge may suspend your driving privileges for up to 90 days.
  • May be ordered to perform community resitution (community service)

For the majority of people, if they are found guilty the consequences include:


  • Class 1 misdemeanor conviction.
  • Mandatory fines of at least $1,493
  • Jail time is rare, but it does happen. We most often see jail in city courts in Maricopa County.
  • Probation is rare.
  • We don’t usually see license suspension from the court (there may be a points suspension)

There can also be some collateral consequences:


A second racing or exhibition of speed conviction carries more serious consequences.

A conviction that occurs within 24 months of another racing or exhibition of speed conviction counts becomes a class 6 felony. A driver who is convicted a second time faces the following consequences:


Minimum consequences for a second conviction include:

  • Could be charged as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • Mandatory fine of not less than $500. Add in court surcharges and assessments, and that gets close to $1,000.
  • Mandatory 10 days jail (assuming no prior felony convictions).
  • 1-year mandatory license suspension. May be eligible for restricted license after 45 days.

Maximum potential consequences for a second conviction include:

  • All of the minimum consequences, plus:
  • Fines up to $150,000 (for a class 6 felony). If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential maximum fine is $2,500 plus surcharges. Surcharges and court assessments will nearly double the fine amount.
  • Up to 2 years in prison.
  • Probation.
  • May be ordered to perform community restitution (community service).

Need Help With A Racing Ticket?

Our attorneys have years of experience with hundreds of criminal traffic cases. If you have questions, give our office a call for a free consultation. Give us a call and let’s talk. We’re full of information, and we don’t charge you to discuss your case. We want every driver to get the best outcome possible in their case. Often, we can help achieve that outcome. Sometimes, a driver doesn’t need an attorney, and we’ll tell you that too.

Traffic Law GuysExcellentTraffic Law Guys4.9 Based on 111 reviews fromSee all reviews review us onSean K.Sean K. ★★★★★ Sometimes mistakes happen and you need someone that knows the law to help you out. The Traffic Law Guys are the best. They devised a strategy and fixed a situation with the best possible outcome. Highly recommended!!!!Brother Woody B.Brother Woody B. ★★★★★ I contacted them via the webpage with questions related to a traffic ticket. I got a prompt and thorough response that contained very helpful information. That one exchange left me with adequate knowledge of the facts I needed to proceed with a strategy I was comfortable with. No charge and professional help! I would certainly come back next time and would feel comfortable trusting them to handle a case in the future if needed.kaan S.kaan S. ★★★★★ Highly recommend this firm. I got a ticket for going 112 mph at a 65 mph zone. The court that the ticket was issued from was Bagdad Yarnell Justice Court. This is probably the worst place you can get a ticket from. On top of that, I accidentally missed my court date. That was when I contacted Traffic Law Guys. They immediately got the arrest warrant removed, and took care of the legal process. I ended up having to pay a fine, and had to take a driving course. That was it. I am actually happy with that outcome, considering that there was a person in the same courtroom as me who got a jail sentence for speeding.Response from the ownerThank you Kaan! js_loader

Vehicle Impound Related to Racing

In Phoenix

Effective April 2021, the city of Phoenix enacted a law that permits Phoenix Police to impound a vehicle if the driver is charged with racing or exhibition of speed. Yes, you read that correctly. The driver does not have to be convicted, just charged. So even if the charge is later dismissed, the driver still has to deal with the 30 day impound.

In the rest of Arizona

In 2021, Arizona enacted a law similar to Phoenix’s, but slightly less punitive. See A.R.S. 28-3511(A)(3). The state law says that if law enforcement determines that the driver was racing or engaging in an exhibition of speed, then the officer shall impound the vehicle. This presents all of the same issues that the Phoenix law does. Specifically, it allows for the impounding of an innocent driver’s vehicle without any due process. Here though, the impound is for 20 days, not for 30 days. After the 20 days run, the driver may go retrieve the vehicle with their valid driver license and proof of registration.

Getting a car out of impound

If the person cited with racing is the only owner of the vehicle at the time of impound, the car won’t be released until the impound time runs.

If there is another owner, that person can get the car released early. See our post about impounds for more information.

How do you fight racing or exhibition of speed ticket?

We take a two-pronged approach to every case.


We thoroughly investigate the facts and details for legal issues. We are looking for information that we can use to cast a reasonable doubt on the allegations.

There are some cases where the racing is clear cut, like the driver who lays 50 feet of rubber as they rocket off the line in a cloud of tire smoke.

Other cases are much less clear cut. Sometimes we see really undeserved exhibition of speed charges for things like chirping tires around a corner or off the line at a light – things that are an oversight or moment of inattention by a driver that resulted in a tire losing traction briefly.

  • Is the an alternative explanation for what is being alleged?
  • Did the officer lose visual contact of the vehicle?
  • Is what the officer is claiming even possible?

We also present our clients and their background in the best possible light. Even when there is no legal argument, often our client’s good background and driving history can be enough to negotiate the desired outcome.

  • Clean driving record
  • History of community service
  • School or employment history
  • Other mitigating details

Our Partner Attorneys

David Enevoldsen

David Enevoldsen

Loves kicking @$$ in court.

Chris Rike

Chris Rike

Lives for poking holes in the state's case

Our Promise To Our Clients

Get the best outcome possible.

Most of our clients have never been charged with a crime before. We understand receiving a criminal traffic ticket can feel scary, confusing, and the unfamiliar process is intimidating.

While we often accomplish our clients’ goals, whether that be avoiding jail or getting a charge reduced, we cannot guarantee a particular outcome.

What we can guarantee is that by the time your case is concluded, you will know that we have done everything possible to secure the best result possible.

Aiding or Abetting, a related charge

 A person who knowingly aids or abets another person in the commission of a violation of this section is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor, except that a second or subsequent violation within a period of twenty-four months is a class 1 misdemeanor

A.R.S. 28-708(C)

The aiding or abetting part of the statute was added in 2021. This addition appears to be targeted at people who facilitate or encourage racing or exhibition of speed. Examples of aiding or abetting include:

  • Drivers who park their vehicles to block access to an intersection so that another driver may do donuts in the intersection.
  • People who encourage or “egg on” drivers in a race or intersection takeover.

We have seen over-zealous applications of the aiding and abetting language result in innocent bystanders being arrested. The situation usually involves a driver who happens to be in the area when something goes down, and law enforcement wrongfully stops them and arrests them. We have had good luck with getting the charges dismissed in these situations.

If someone is charged with aiding or abetting, they may receive a second criminal charge for obstruction as well if they were blocking the road in any manner.

Political Motivations for Racing and Exhibition of Speed Charges

Local governments in Phoenix and the surrounding areas are particularly focussed on racing-related activity these days. This is likely due to a string of serious accidents resulting from alleged street racing including for example:

  • In February 2020, two cars were street racing on the SR-51 at speeds in excess of 100 mph. One of the drivers in an Audi TT lost control, ran off the highway and collided with a concrete retaining wall. The car disintegrated, killing the 18-year-old driver and scattering car parts all over the highway.
  • In August 2019, a Scottsdale man driving a Lamborghini Gallardo was engaged in a street race with a BMW at over 100 mph. The 22-year-old driver of the BMW lost control and collided with another car, killing the 68-year-old female driver. The Scottsdale man was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault.

Local governments and law enforcement agencies are also concerned about what they term “illegal car meetups” – basically people obstructing traffic and creating dangerous situations on roads. These illegal meetups often involve racing or exhibitions of speed. provided this video which shows people blocking intersections so other can do donuts in the intersection (exhibition of speed),as well as people lighting fireworks on highways and jumping on trucks.

In our opinion, high-profile accidents and the outrageous behavior of a few people have made police more sensitive to any perceived racing or exhibition of speed violations by the everyday motorist.

At the start of 2020, Phoenix Police Department received a $100,000 grant to stop street racing. This $100k is being used to fund a task force of over 25 people, including aircraft and helicopter usage. We have seen in our cases examples of the police calling in air support to track a suspect who tries to flee at high speed from the police. The police are willing to involve considerable resources to prevent street racing.

In 2023, due to the success fo the Phoenix Police Department’s Street Racing Task Force, another multi-agency street racing task force was formed in the east valley.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Do you have to be speeding to get a racing ticket?

In short, no, one does not need to be speeding to get a racing ticket. Speeding and racing tickets often go together, but not always. The racing statute doesn’t actually include any language about speed. All that is required is a contest of speed, or a display of speed. The prosecution doesn’t have to prove any particular speed, or even that the speed was above the posted limit.

Sometimes we see cases where two cars race from a standstill, but let off the gas as they approach the speed limit. We have also seen cases where a driver was ticketed for exhibition of speed for doing a burnout while never exceeding the speed limit.

Is racing a jury eligible charge?

No. If a driver goes to trial on a racing or exhibition of speed case, it will be a bench trial. This means a judge will decide the issue of whether the driver was racing or engaging in an exhibition of speed.

How many points is racing/exhibition of speed?

8 points.

If you are convicted of aggressive driving, the court where you are convicted will transmit a record of that conviction to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicles Division (MVD for short). When the MVD is notified of a conviction, they will assess 8 points on your driving record. Check out this post for more discussion about points.

8 points means that the MVD will send you a letter saying you have to complete an 8-hour Traffic Survival School (TSS) class to avoid a license suspension. If you have taken TSS in the previous 24 months, you will just get a 3-month suspension.

These MVD consequences are in addition to any consequences imposed by the court.

Even if you do not have an Arizona driver license, the Arizona MVD will still impose essentially the same penalties. The MVD will create a record for you, send you the same letter about traffic survival school, or issue a suspension of your driving privileges.

These MVD consequences will likely also impact an out of state driver license. Arizona, and most other states, participate in an interstate Driver License Compact. This is an agreement between states to share information about driver license records and suspensions.

How long will my case take?

Three to four months is usually a good estimate of time.

Will I have to appear in court?

If you hire an attorney, your attorney can often attend the pretrial conferences without you. Some courts require that a defendant attend pretrial conferences, but this is the exception rather than the rule. We represent many clients from out-of-state who never return to Arizona or attend court. You can discuss whether or not your presence is necessary with your attorney. If your case goes to trial, you will almost certainly need to attend the trial in person.

What if I don’t live in Arizona?

Most courts will let you appear by telephone for court appearances other than a trial. Some courts may require you to make this request in writing, others not. If you live out of state, call the court and ask them about their policies regarding telephonic appearances. If you have an attorney, your attorney can take care of this. If your case ends up going to trial, you will need to come back to Arizona for the trial. If your case is resolved without going to trial, you probably won’t need to physically return to Arizona.

Will a racing conviction affect my job?

It depends.

This will of course depend on your job, but for the vast majority of people, the answer is probably not. We frequently represent clients who are required to undergo background checks as part of their job, or who hold security clearances, or who have professional licenses (like attorneys or doctors), and an aggressive driving conviction probably won’t derail your career. However, a racing conviction will likely require an explanation, and it is always ideal to avoid having to make that explanation.

For some people though, like commercial truck drivers or other people who have to drive in the course of their employment, a racing conviction can be a big problem. For example, it could result in the driver’s CDL being disqualified for 60 days or more if the driver has a prior serious driving violation.

If you are concerned about how a racing conviction could impact your job, you may want to review your company’s policies regarding criminal traffic convictions and consult an attorney about your specific situation.

Will a criminal conviction affect my immigration status?

Maybe. We always advise our clients to consult with an immigration attorney to get a definitive answer to this question.

In another post, we discuss potential immigration consequences with immigration attorney Jessica Cadavid.

Can I go to jail for racing/exhibition of speed?

Yes. Racing and exhibition of speed are class 1 misdemeanor.s This means up to 6 months in jail is possible. However, in practice we rarely see jail time unless the driver has prior convictions.

Can I set aside a racing/exhibition of speed conviction?

In the event you are convicted of racing or exhibition of speed, you can apply to the court to have the conviction set aside. This application can be made anytime after all of the sentencing requirements have been completed. In most cases, this means after the fines have been paid.

If the court grants the request, and it is at the court’s discretion, then the conviction is set aside. This means that if someone were to conduct a criminal background check, this charge would still be reflected there, but the disposition or outcome would say “set aside and dismissed” rather than show that you had been convicted.

In other words, once the conviction is set aside, it means you have no longer been convicted of the charge.

It has been our experience that most courts are pretty generous with granting applications to set aside convictions.

Unfortunately, setting aside a conviction does not undo any MVD consequences or remove the violation from your driving record.

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