Drivers in California have to obey strict rules to legally operate their vehicles. Individuals can face charges for driving under the influence, speeding, and driving recklessly. The state can also charge drivers under California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c): Exhibition of Speed.
VC 23109(c) can be used as a criminal charge or as part of a plea bargain. If you’ve been charged, it’s important to understand your legal options. Find out more about the specifics of a VC 23109(c) charge with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group.
VC 23109(c) as a Criminal Charge in California
The court system in California can prosecute drivers under VC 23109(c) if they engage in an exhibition of speed. You may also hear exhibition of speed charges called “speed contests” or “speed ex.” Legally, an exhibition of speed occurs if someone:
- Drives on a highway;
- While accelerating or driving at a dangerous speed;
- To show-off or impress someone else
Note that California considers all public streets and roads to be highways.
VC 23109(c) and Plea Bargains in California
Sometimes, drivers are offered a VC 23109(c) charge in a plea bargain after originally facing charges for:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI With Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07 Percent
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b): Driving With a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 Percent or Higher
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e): Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
In many cases, a VC 23109(c) charge is far preferable to a charge for driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI conviction comes with harsher penalties and DUIs are also priorable offenses. This means that if you get arrested for two DUIs, the penalties for the second offense will be harsher.
A VC 23109(c) conviction will not count against you in the same way. Many drivers find accepting a VC 23109(c) charge to be in their best interest. A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can assess your situation to see if a VC 23109(c) plea bargain is right for you.
Note that there are several other charges that may be offered in a DUI plea bargain. Drivers may also receive an offer of California Vehicle Code Section 23103: Dry Reckless or California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5: Wet Reckless.
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can go over the differences in these charges to ensure drivers understand all of your legal options.
When Will the Prosecution Agree to a VC 23109(c) Plea?
Typically a charge of an exhibition of speed under VC 23109(c) is difficult to obtain in a DUI plea bargain deal. It is generally considered to be the best case option for a defendant in a DUI plea bargain. That means that it will only be on the table if the prosecution’s case is very weak.
When the prosecution is negotiating a plea deal on a DUI case, they are going to be pushing for a wet reckless charge. Like a DUI charge, a charge of wet reckless counts as a priorable offense. That means that if you get arrested on a DUI charge again in the future, a wet reckless conviction on your record will increase the penalties that you face.
A dry reckless charge falls between the two, and often the two sides will end up meeting there in the middle. Because the prosecution’s case has to be quite weak in order for them to agree to an exhibition of speed charge, you might choose to take your chances in court and possibly avoid any conviction.
Speak with a DUI lawyer before making any decisions about a plea bargain. An experienced attorney can advise you about all of your options and let you know the strength of your case and whether a plea deal is right for you.
Penalties for an Exhibition of Speed Conviction
Exhibition of speed can be prosecuted as an infraction or a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for these charges vary.
Exhibition of Speed Infraction Penalties
Drivers accused of an exhibition or speed infraction may face a fine of up to $250. Because infractions are treated as civil offenses rather than criminal offenses in California, these drivers should not face a period of probation or any jail time.
Exhibition of Speed Misdemeanor Penalties:
Misdemeanor charges, on the other hand, are considered criminal offenses. Because of this, the penalties are much harsher. A misdemeanor charge for an exhibition of speed can lead to:
- Fines of up to $500
- Jail time of up to 90 days
- Summary probation
You can compare these penalties to those used for a 1st time DUI conviction, which is DUI fines of up to $2,000 and DUI jail time of up to six months. DUI convictions can also lead to the suspension of your driver’s license, making VC 23109(c) charges useful in many plea bargains.
Criminal Defenses for Exhibition of Speed Charges
Many drivers decide to accept exhibition of speed charges as part of a plea bargain. However, some drivers in California are charged under VC 23109(c) as the direct result of being pulled over by a police officer. In this situation, drivers can seek help from a criminal defense lawyer.
A professional lawyer may be able to argue several different defenses depending on your situation. Below are two of the most common arguments used in a California VC Section 23109(c) case.
That You Did Not Willfully Accelerate Dangerously
Some drivers accelerate abruptly without intending to show off or impress anyone. Drivers who have certain medical conditions may accelerate quickly by accident. Elderly drivers may be at an especially high risk of accelerating for this reason.
That You Accelerated to Avoid a Threat to Your Safety
Sometimes, drivers must accelerate abruptly in order to avoid risk on the roads. While this may resemble an exhibition of speed to an outside observer, a lawyer may be able to show that accelerating suddenly was the best option in your situation.
A Lawyer Can Help You Handle Exhibition of Speed Charges
You can get help handling California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c): Exhibition of Speed charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today. Our professional criminal defense lawyers can help you build a defense or handle the intricacies of a plea bargain.
You can reach us by completing our online contact form or giving us a call. Get legal help today with a free consultation. Let us fight to protect your future if you’ve been charged.