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Lawmakers Pass Strict Exhibition Driving Laws

auto-2378367__480-300x169The Maryland General Assembly recently passed strict laws aimed at eradicating street racing and exhibition driving, and now the Governor’s signature is all that is needed for the law to take effect as early as June 1 of this year.  House Bill 601 and Senate Bill 442 add significant penalties for drivers and other participants in organized highway speed contests and spontaneous racing or exhibition driving.  Up to 8 points will be assessed for any driver convicted of either racing or exhibition driving, and this jumps to 12 points if the act results in serious bodily injury.  Drivers and other participants in either of these acts could also face criminal penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.  The potential maximum penalty jumps to 1 year in jail if serious bodily injury occurred during the act.  While only drivers would face license points, other participants such as flagmen and timekeepers could face criminal penalties for being involved.

The two bills received an outpouring of support from law enforcement and local officials around the state.  Exhibition driving was also in the spotlight during the legislative session after numerous roads were effectively shut down in the Takoma Park area of Montgomery County in February due to driving exhibitions and unlawful races.  Ocean City even sent its mayor and other town officials to Annapolis to testify in favor of the bills.  Back in 2018 Ocean City lobbied for permission to criminalize exhibition driving in special event zones after the beachfront town had for years struggled to deal with non-sanctioned rally car events that would often result in impromptu races and exhibitions.  The situation in Ocean City became so out of control that the local government warned non-resident property owners to stay away during the pop-up rally events.

Exhibition driving is defined as excessive, abrupt acceleration or deceleration, skidding or smoking of the tires, intentional swerving from side to side, producing unreasonably loud noises, grinding the gears, using hydraulics to pop the tires off the ground or transporting passengers in areas of the vehicle not intended for people to sit.  Sitting on the hood or roof of a moving vehicle in motion will be classified as exhibition driving.  The definition of exhibition driving includes a large number of acts, and in order to prevent abuse of this offense by charging officers the legislature has created a section for affirmative defenses.  A driver could be acquitted from the charge if he or she demonstrates the act was reasonable and for safety purposes.  This is important, as we have seen numerous citations issued where drivers skidded or accelerated abruptly for legitimate reasons and not to put on a show.  Sitting on a car during a properly permitted parade would also be an affirmative defense, so police will not be out in force on July 4th ticketing en masse.

If you have been charged with exhibition driving or racing in any jurisdiction, contact Maryland traffic defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin handles all types of serious state and federal traffic infractions including DUI, driving without a license, driving on a suspended or revoked license, failure to remain at the scene of an accident, federal DUI, driving uninsured vehicle., and out of state DUI.  He was won dozens of traffic trials and handles serious vehicle related offenses such as manslaughter by vehicle or vessel, DUI homicide and criminal negligence, and has successfully recalled hundreds of traffic warrants for failure to appear or violation of probation.  Benjamin will fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced and to assure that no points are assessed on your drivers’ license.  Call Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598 to learn about possible defenses to your Maryland traffic violation, and to discuss flexible payment plans that are available in all cases.


Ocean City officials offers support for statewide exhibition driving law,

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