For those who love cars, customizing and racing are a way of life. Some dedicated performance enthusiasts, however, are putting their cars, their buddies and their lives on the line by street racing.
Street racing is illegal. The CHP won't hesitate to take street racers to court.
A first conviction on a street racing violation means:
- Minimum county jail sentence of 24 hours and maximum of 90 days.
- Vehicle probably impounded for at least 30 days.
- Owner responsible for vehicle's towing and storage charges ($1,000 or more).
- If owner fails to pay, vehicle could be sold at a lien sale.
- Anyone who aids or abets a street race also faces a maximum 90-day jail sentence.
Instead, take your car to a National Hot Rod Association-sanctioned track or drag strip, where you can race safely under optimum conditions.
"Nots" for the Hots
Illegal equipment most often cited by the CHP:
Loud car stereo.
Illegal if heard more than 50 feet from the vehicle
Lack of front and rear DMV-issued license plates
Radar jammers. Radar detectors are legal, but jammers, or any device which interferes with radar signals, are illegal (28150 VC).
- Lowered frame (or any other part) that is lower than the lowest point of the wheel rim (24008 VC).
- Air and hydraulic suspension systems that are operated unsafely or with the vehicle lower than allowed (24002, 24008 VC).
- Tinting the front side windows and the windshield (except for a narrow band at the top of the windshield). Windows behind the driver's head may be tinted. If rear window is tinted, right-side mirror is required (26708 VC).
- Lack of white rear license plate light (24601 VC). It must illuminate the license plate, not project light behind the vehicle.
- Missing front and/or rear bumpers (28071 VC).
- Illegal engine modifications. Most are illegal due to smog (27156 VC). See Air Resources Board web site for more info and list of parts that are legal.
- Blue and yellow headlights. Headlights must be white - blue and yellow are illegal (24011 VC). Look for the DOT symbol on the bulb and package.
- Headlights brighter or higher wattage than those from the factory. You may be able to see better, but the lights are illegal (24011 VC).
- Tail lights other than red (24600 VC).
- Illegal brake lights. Brake lights on vehicles newer than 1979 must be red (24603 VC). (Vehicles older than 1979 may be red or yellow.)
- Lack of rear reflectors. Two red reflectors are required on the rear of cars and trucks (24607 VC).
- Incorrect color of turn signal. It must be white or yellow to the front, red or yellow to the rear (24953 VC).
- Red lights to the front. They are illegal except on emergency vehicles (24003 VC).
- Tail lights that incorporate a bulb with a red tint or coating. In general, custom tail lights that incorporate a clear outer shell and red inner lens are legal (24011 VC). If they don't incorporate reflectors, they must be added to the vehicle (24607 VC).
- Tail lights that are too dim, washed out or show yellow, white or other colors (24600 VC).
- Illegal color of side marker lights. If present, must be yellow in the front and red in the rear (25106, 24003 VC).
- Driving with just parking lights on (24800 VC). Vehicles that have factory-installed automatic daytime running lights must meet federal requirements and are legal.
- Illegal decorative lights (24003 VC). All flashing decorative lights are illegal (25250 VC).
- Illegal windshield washer nozzle lights. Only white or yellow are allowed. (25106 VC, 24003 VC).
- Lights attached to tire valves (24003, 25250 VC).
- Lighted license plate frames (unless red) (24003 VC).
- Illegal lights, whether or not they are operating. It is illegal just to have them on the vehicle (24003 VC).
- Excessively noisy exhaust systems and mufflers (27150, 27151 VC). Many aftermarket exhaust systems and parts are illegal. Look for parts that meet California law. If it doesn't say it meets the law, it probably doesn't.
- Exhaust systems which meet smog requirements but are still too loud. Exhaust equipment that states it is, "Legal in all 50 states," refers to smog, not noise.
- Note: New law (27150.2 VC) does not require law enforcement to use sound level meters to test for excessive noise. Citation is based on officer's judgment. Cited violators may have testing done at smog referee stations or may be directed by the court to have testing done. Vehicles in violation must be brought into compliance. A fine may also be imposed.
California Highway Patrol
Office of Public Affairs
This pamphlet is intended as a guide only. Contact your nearest CHP office for any questions or interpretations.
More detailed information is also available in CHP publications CHP 885 (Passenger Car Equipment), CHP 888 (Motorcycle Equipment) and CHP 892 (Special Construction Vehicles).
They may be obtained from your local CHP office.
Remember - FTBC (failure to be cool) is not a crime!
CHP 933 (NEW 6/2003) OPI 013
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