September 2023



Is It Legal To Do a Burnout?

Written by , Posted in Traffic Law

smokey tire doing a burnout on asphalt illegally


The legality of doing a burnout varies depending on your location and the circumstances. As thrill-inducing as this maneuver can be, in the U.S. and many other places, burnouts are viewed as reckless driving and are illegal when done on public roads and highways. Engaging in such behavior can result in tickets and fines, loss of your driving privileges, and in some cases, jail time, especially if the burnout causes an accident or is done in a dangerous manner.

However, there might be certain designated areas or events, like a motorsports event, where you are allowed to perform burnouts. It’s advisable to check the laws and regulations in your local area or consult with a legal professional to understand the specifics regarding burnouts.

It’s not likely you’ll get caught if you’re doing it in a remote area, but just know that technically it’s illegal. Also there’s a difference between a chirp or two of a tire of an aggressive RWD or FWD launch, and a full-on smokey AWD burnout. For example, a small non-smokey spinning of your front tires can happen accidentally due to bad traction or cheap tires and you can plead ignorance and plausible deniability with cops, but not with a full on smoke show in front of a crowd..

Is it legal to do a burnout on private property?

On private property, the rules regarding burnouts is a lot more lenient, but it still largely depends on local laws and ordinances. Some jurisdictions may have ordinances that prohibit certain types of noise, nuisance, or hazardous behavior on private property. These regulations might be applied to burnouts regardless of where they are performed. A place like Irvine California has tons of these sort of ordinances. If you value your freedom, chances are you will find a lot less restrictions outside of California, or at least unincorporated areas of California such as parts of Corona and Riverside.

I’d say it’s crucial to have the property owner’s permission to perform burnouts and drifting. Without it, you could be charged with trespassing or other offenses. Unlikely, but in a worst case scenario where you hit someone’s building or work truck, and they caught you on security camera doing burnouts, you may end up having to pay the bill if your insurance sees it!

Are there laws against burnouts?

Yes there are. Laws against burnouts will depend by state and jurisdiction, but for example, California Vehicle Code Section 23103 states: Driving with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” is considered reckless driving. Burnouts could easily fall under this definition due to the risks associated with losing control of the vehicle.

Updated: 09/27/2023

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