Criminal Law

2201. Speed Contest

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with engaging in a speed contest.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway;


2. While so driving, the defendant willfully engaged in a speed contest.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

A person engages in a speed contest when he or she uses a motor vehicle to race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device. [A speed contest does not include an event in which the participants measure the time required to cover a set route of more than 20 miles but where the vehicle does not exceed the speed limits.]

[A motor vehicle includes a (passenger vehicle/motorcycle/bus/ school bus/commercial vehicle/truck tractor/ <insert other type of motor vehicle>).]

[The term highway describes any area publicly maintained and open to the public for purposes of vehicular travel, and includes a street.]

[The term[s] (motor vehicle/ [and] highway) (is/are) defined in another instruction to which you should refer.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

The court must define the terms "motor vehicle" and "highway." Give the bracketed definitions unless the court has already given the definition in other instructions. In such cases, the court may give the bracketed sentence stating that the term is defined elsewhere.

If the defendant is charged with aiding and abetting a speed contest under Vehicle Code section 23109(b), give CALCRIM No. 401, Aiding and Abetting: Intended Crimes. This instruction also must be given, but the court should modify the first sentence and change "defendant" to "perpetrator" throughout the instruction.

Give CALCRIM No. 2241, Driver and Driving Defined, on request.


Elements. Veh. Code, § 23109(a).

Willfully Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 1; People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].

Motor Vehicle Defined. Veh. Code, § 415.

Highway Defined. Veh. Code, § 360.

Speed Contest. In re Harvill (1959) 168 Cal.App.2d 490, 492-493 [335 P.2d 1016] [discussing prior version of statute].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, § 254.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 145, Narcotics and Alcohol Offenses, § 145.02[1][c] (Matthew Bender).

(New January 2006)