Unauthorized speed racing in Nevada is a reckless driving (NRS 484B.653) crime. And the people who organize an illegal speed contest are punished the same as the racers who compete in it.
As a Nevada misdemeanor, a first offense of illegal street racing carries $250 to $1,000 in fines and 50 to 99 community service hours. A second offense carries $1,000 to $1,500 in fines and 100 to 199 community service hours. And a third offense carries $1,500 to $2,000 in fines and 200 community service hours. In addition, defendants face a driver’s license suspension of six months to two years and possibly six months of jail time.
But if death or substantial bodily harm results, unauthorized drag racing becomes a category B felony punishable by one to six years in prison and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
NRS 484B.653 states:
1. It is unlawful for a person to:
(b) Drive a vehicle in an unauthorized speed contest on a highway or premises to which the public has access.
(c) Organize an unauthorized speed contest on a highway or premises to which the public has access
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Is drag racing legal in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties for speed contests?
- 3. How can I fight charges for violating NRS 484B.653?
- 4. How soon can the record be sealed?
1. Is drag racing legal in Nevada?
Unauthorized street racing is a form of reckless driving under Nevada law. It does not matter if the street racers are driving safely or if there is no one else on the dragstrip. State law prohibits participating in any kind of exhibition of speed contest on a public roadway – or anywhere accessible by the public – that was not cleared by the proper authorities.
Furthermore, simply organizing an unauthorized drag race is as illegal as driving in it. “Organizing” means to “assist in the planning, scheduling or promotion of an unauthorized speed contest on a public highway, regardless of whether a fee is charged for attending the unauthorized speed contest.”1
2. What are the penalties for speed contests?
The punishment for exhibition of speed contests turns on whether the defendant has prior convictions and whether anyone was seriously hurt or killed.
Drag Racing crime
|Third or subsequent offense||
|Any offense causing severe injury or a fatality||
Category B felony
Furthermore, penalties can be doubled if the racing occurred in a pedestrian safety zone or a work zone.2
Note that it may be possible to fight the license suspension at an administrative DMV hearing at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
3. How can I fight charges for violating NRS 484B.653?
Potential defenses to Nevada drag racing charges are:
- The defendant did not participate in or organize the street race;
- The exhibition of speed contest had been pre-authorized by the proper authorities;
- Nothing that occurred or was planned qualifies as a street race; or
- Law enforcement committed misconduct, such as by coercing a confession of criminal activity.
Which defenses are most effective in fighting a Nevada drag racing charge turn on the specific facts of each case. And if the defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt that the defendant participated in or planned a drag race, then the whole matter should be dismissed. Typical evidence that comes into play in Las Vegas street racing cases include:
- surveillance video of the alleged motor vehicle speed contest;
- eyewitnesses to the alleged race; or
- communication records (such as texts or voicemails) between the alleged organizers.
4. How soon can the record be sealed?
If a drag racing charge gets dismissed, then the record seal process can begin right away. Otherwise, misdemeanor drag racing convictions can be sealed one year after the case ends. And felony drag racing convictions can be sealed five years after the case ends.3
Learn how to seal Nevada criminal records.
Arrested or given a citation in the Las Vegas Valley? Contact our Las Vegas, NV criminal defense lawyers. We practice throughout Clark County, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.
Our law firm defends against all types of criminal charges from DUI and theft to violent crimes and sexual assault. And we fight all types of traffic tickets such as running a red light (NRS 484B.307), failing to yield right-of-way at left turn (NRS 484B.253), and exceeding the speed limit (NRS 484B.600).
- Nevada Revised Statute 484B.653 Reckless driving, organization of unauthorized speed contests and driving in or facilitating unauthorized trick driving displays prohibited; penalties; court to suspend driver’s license of certain offenders; additional penalties for violation committed in work zone or pedestrian safety zone or if driver is proximate cause of collision with pedestrian or person riding bicycle; court may order impounding vehicle of certain offenders. See also Dawes v. State, (1994) 110 Nev. 1141. See also State v. Johnson (1977) 93 Nev. 279. Madison Kimbro, Controlling Street Racing with Midnight Mayhem at The Strip, 8 News Now (Jan 14, 2022). See also the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and National Hot Road Association (NHRA).
- NRS 484B.653. NRS 484B.130. NRS 484B.135.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.