Recently, drivers on several highways in San Antonio had their commute interrupted by hundreds of drivers who shut down the road to engage in risky behavior like doing donuts, shooting off fireworks, or racing each other in the main lanes. These stoppages affected Highway 90 on the West Side, Highway 281 at Hildebrand Ave, and I-10 near Vance Jackson Road, though as of this writing only one person has been arrested and charged with racing on a highway. If you or a loved one has been injured by a street racer or someone engaged in other types of reckless behavior, be aware that you may have a civil claim for compensation even if they are not arrested for the offense.
Both a Crime and a Civil Tort
Texas law on racing on highways explicitly bans participating in a race, a “vehicle speed [or] acceleration contest,” or any type of drag race or “physical endurance” test as the operator of a vehicle. Because this definition clearly includes more than simple drag racing, it is sometimes used as a catch-all charge for disorderly or reckless behavior on a highway, such as that seen on San Antonio’s highways recently.
A first offense for this is a Class B misdemeanor, which only carries up to 180 days in jail plus fines up to $2,000. However, if someone is convicted of this charge more than once, or if they cause property damage or death, the charge can rise up to a second-degree felony. While the state files criminal cases, and the injured plaintiff (you) would file a civil lawsuit, understanding the potential criminal consequences is still relevant, especially if the fines imposed as a part of a criminal sentence are steep....