Is Florida's Racing on Highways Statute Constitutional or Not?
Florida's DCA conflictPortions of s. 316.191, F.S.(racing on highways), were ruled unconstitutional in State v. Wells, 965 So.2d 834 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007); however, the ruling in Wells conflicts with Reaves v. State, 979 So.2d 1066 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008). In Wells, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that current s. 316.191, F.S., is unconstitutionally vague because the statutory definition of racing could include both lawful and unlawful conduct. For example, both speeding (illegal) and the act of passing a vehicle (legal) could be included under the definition since both acts could be an attempt to outgain or outdistance another motor vehicle. The court held the critical distinction between the lawful and unlawful conduct was the element of competition or a challenge between two drivers. Absent such language, the court in Wells held s. 316.191, F.S., was unconstitutionally vague on its face.
Florida CS/SB 1998 hoped to remedy the language of the statute.the Bill was formally filed on a Monday, February 23, 2009, at 8:32 a.m. On March 5th it was introduced in committee. The bill unanimously passed through three committees before it died in the Criminal and Civil Justice Committee on May 5, 2009, at 12:01 a.m. Now there is no more Bill 1998. Back to square one.
Will the Supreme Court of Florida hear this?Is this a certified conflict that the Florida Supreme Court might hear? Is it of great public importance such that the Supreme Court would need to answer? It;s possible. If you represent a client who was pulled over solely because your officer claims he or she violated S. 316.191, F.S., then your answer is going to be yes, especially if your judicial circuit falls under the binding authority of the 1st DCA. Knowing that there is an issue, do prosecutors have an ethical responsiblity to bring this dilemma to the judge's knowledge? In the 4th DCA, should prosecutors there be automatically dismissing cases charged under this statute specifically because they fall under the binding authority of the 4th DCA? If you or your client is charged under this statute or are pulled over under this statute, be sure and do your homework and who knows, you could be arguing your case before the Florida Supreme Court.