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Laying Drags

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Have You Been Arrested For Laying Drags in Georgia?

Have You Been Given A Ticket or Citation For Laying Drags In Georgia?

Laying drags is defined by O.C.G.A. § 40-6-251(a) as operating a vehicle “in such a manner as to create a danger to persons or property by intentionally and unnecessarily causing the vehicle to move in a zigzag or circular course or to gyrate or spin around.”  If charged contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer as soon as possible.

There is an exception to the law if the individual lays drag only as a necessary maneuver to avoid a collision, injury, or damage. The law also does not apply to drivers operating vehicles in or on any raceway, drag strip, or similar place customarily and lawfully used for such purposes. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-251(c).

“Laying drag” requires that the vehicle be driven in a zigzag or circular course or to gyrate or spin around.  Spinning the tires or driving in such a manner that it “burns rubber” is not technically “laying drag.”

In State v. Armstrong, 223 Ga. App. 350 (1996), the officer heard tires squealing and saw white smoke coming from the rear tires of a pickup truck which bounced as it made a turn in the parking lot. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic were both heavy. The officer observed people walking near the truck and recognized the driver's manner of driving as dangerous to the pedestrian traffic. The court ultimately held that what the officer had witnessed did not amount to “laying drags” as defined by the legislature.

Similarly, in Hale v. State, 262 Ga. App. 710 (2003), an officer less than one block away heard someone allegedly "laying drag." The sound, consisting of an engine and screeching tires, created a disturbance throughout the neighborhood. The officer immediately circled the block and arrived at Hale's location in less than 30 seconds. At that time, the officer observed Hale driving a car that had just come to a stop on the street. As the officer approached Hale, he saw burnt oil and rubber smoke coming from the engine and tires of Hale's car. In addition, Hale's car was on top of approximately 50 feet of skid or drag marks that went "forward and back." The officer described these multiple drag marks as heavy, thick, and black. These marks were all located in front of Hale's home, a residential neighborhood with approximately 100 houses on the street. The officer testified that he had no doubt in his mind that Hale's car made the skid marks and that there were no other cars on the road at that time of night.

The court found, however, that there was no evidence that the marks were in a zigzag or circular pattern and so the state had failed to prove that Hale was “laying drag” within the meaning of the statute. Id.

Even if an individual is not driving in a manner that falls under the statutory definition of “laying drag,” an officer may nevertheless have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop the person's vehicle.  A police officer may stop a vehicle for investigatory purposes when no traffic violation was observed if he has a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity.

While it is true that the officer must reasonably suspect wrongdoing, and that this suspicion cannot be based on a mere hunch that the individual is "up to something," Georgia courts have rejected the notion that the police officer must know with certainty that each element of a particular crime could be established: "If the officer acting in good faith believes that an unlawful act has been committed, his actions are not rendered improper by a later legal determination that the defendant's actions were not a crime according to a technical legal definition or distinction determined to exist in the penal statute. It is not the officer's function to determine on the spot such matters as, e.g., jurisdiction or the legal niceties in the definition of a certain crime, for these are matters for the courts. The question to be decided is whether the officer's motives and actions at the time and under all the circumstances, including the nature of the officer's mistake, if any, were reasonable and not arbitrary or harassing." State v. Armstrong (quoting State v. Webb, 193 Ga. App. 2, 3-4 (1989)).

That shows that driving in such a way that it gives the appearance that the person had recently been laying drag may still give an officer probable cause to initiate a brief investigative stop on the vehicle. In Armstrong, even though the defendant's driving did not meet the statutory requirements of “laying drag,” the officer's stop of the vehicle to investigate was deemed reasonable. Id.

Once the vehicle is stopped and the officer makes contact with the driver, the officer may then observe manifestations of intoxication that cause the officer to expand his investigation to determine if the individual is under the influence of alcohol.  The officer only needs probable cause that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that the person is less safe to drive in order to make an arrest for DUI. The officer has already observed reckless driving maneuvers, whether or not the driver was technically “laying drag,” and so any evidence of intoxication or impairment may then lead to a DUI arrest.

An individual is guilty of a misdemeanor if convicted of laying drag as defined by O.C.G.A. § 40-6-251(a). The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor offense in Georgia is 12 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. Additionally, three points will be assessed against your driver's license.  This may lead to a suspension of driving privileges if 15 or more points are accumulated in any 24 month period. For drivers under the age of 18, if four or more points are accumulated in any 12 month period, there will be a six month driver's license suspension.

A laying drags violation is often coupled with a citation for racing. It is illegal for any person to drive any vehicle on a highway in Georgia in any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, exhibition of speed or acceleration, or for the purpose of making a speed record, and it is illegal for any person to participate in any such race, competition of speed, contest of speed, or test or exhibition of speed. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-186(b).

"Drag race" means the operation of two or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerated speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other or the operation of one or more vehicles over a common selected course from the same point to the same point for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of such vehicle or vehicles within a certain distance or time limit. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-186(a)(1).

"Racing" means the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to outgain, outdistance, or prevent another vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-186(a)(2).

In Dodd v. State, 205 Ga. App. 472 (1992), officers heard the sound of two automobiles accelerating at a high rate of speed with the noise getting louder as the automobiles approached the officers and the officers observed the automobiles go by at approximately 50 to 55 mph. (The speed limit was 35 mph.) The acceleration noise continued after the automobiles passed the officers. The automobiles were going east, in separate lanes. The officers only observed the automobiles for about 45 seconds, but the officers testified at trial that, during that time, the Chevelle was trying to "outrun" the Camaro and it appeared to be pulling ahead. They admitted, however, that the distance between the two automobiles basically stayed the same. The court found this was sufficient evidence to prove the defendants had been racing.

If a person is injured or killed as a result of racing, all parties involved may be liable. It would not have to be proven that the persons involved were actually racing, only that they had been involved in a joint enterprise. A joint enterprise to drive two cars in tandem at excessive speeds and in a reckless manner is as much a tacit "unlawful joint enterprise" to violate the traffic laws of Georgia as an agreement to engage in "racing." Bellamy v. Edwards, 181 Ga. App. 887 (1987); see also Kilpatrick v. Foster, 185 Ga. App. 453 (1987).

If convicted of racing, there is a 120 day driver's license suspension. A limited driving permit can be obtained for the entire suspension period. If the individual is 21 years of age or older, a plea of nolo contendere will prevent the suspension of the person's driver's license if the person has no previous mandatory suspensions within the past 5 years. For a second conviction within a 5 year period, a plea of nolo contendere will not be accepted by the Department of Driver Services and the suspension will go into effect and no limited driving permit will be available.

If Charged With Laying Drags Contact A TOP-Rated Lawyer As Soon As Possible:

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