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Is drag racing illegal?

Racing cars, trucks or motorcycles brings excitement to all ages. The Milwaukee Mile, a one-mile long oval racetrack at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world. The grandstand seats 45,000 spectators. 

While racing is legal, drag racing is not. Teenagers and twenty-somethings may go watch illegal street races during the evening hours. Both the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin have statutes regarding racing. 

The law 

Wisconsin statute 346.94(2) says no vehicle may take part in a race, speed or endurance contest on a highway. The penalty for this action may be a fine of no less than $20, but no more than $400. 

Milwaukee’s Traffic Code 101.220.7 goes into more detail than the Wisconsin statute. Being a spectator can also net a person the same fine as the vehicle’s driver. The Code defines a spectator as any person present at the event who is viewing, watching or witnessing it. This includes anyone present at the location or place where cars and drivers are getting ready. A person is present if he or she is within 150 feet of the race or preparation for the event. 

The Code also includes the process of preparing for the race. The act of preparation includes: 

  • The arrival of participants at a predetermined location 
  • The presence of a group of people along one or both sides of a public highway 
  • A group of people impeding a person’s use of the public highway to race 
  • The presence of one or more vehicles with motors running at an event 
  • The revving-up of a motor’s engine or “peeling out” on a public highway 
  • The appearance of someone as being a race starter 

The consequences 

Milwaukee’s fines are the same as the state. Other penalties may include: 

  • Impounding the vehicle 
  • Probation 
  • Revocation or suspension of driving privileges 

Involvement in an accident or death resulting from an accident may include more serious charges. Those may comprise aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter or vehicular homicide. 

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