Friday, February 22, 2008

Criminal Penalties for Drag Racing

Beginning Tuesday, February 26, drag racing in Massachusetts will be a criminal offense for most drivers, rather than a civil motor vehicle infraction, under revised MGL c.90, s.17B. Currently, penalties are a $100-500 fine and 30-day license suspension for a first offense, and a $200-1000 fine and 60-day suspension for a subsequent offense. Under the new law, penalties are more serious. Even a first offense carries the possibility of up to 2 1/2 years in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, in addition to license suspension.

Oddly, the new provisions do not apply to those with a junior operator's license or learner's permit. Previously, the penalties had been much harsher for these newer drivers than for experienced drivers, but when the legislature amended the law, they did not amend the paragraphs dealing with new drivers. As a result, drag racing remains a civil infraction for drivers with a junior operator's license or learner's permit. These newer drivers continue to face high fines, long suspensions and license reinstatement fees, but no possibility of jail time.