Can you get a ticket for excessive accleration?

Can you get a ticket for excessive accleration?

So it's been a very long time since driver's ed, and my Tesla should finally arrive week after next, and an interesting question popped into my head:

Is it against the law to accelerate rapidly (e.g., from a red light) up to the speed limit provided you're not racing another driver?

Here in Austin, the street that our neighborhood empties out onto has many areas that are 65mph, but even in the 65mph areas there are lots of stop lights (gotta love Texas!), so one could have LOTS of fun, but I would rather save tickets for speed traps! Does anyone happen to have a good answer for this?

rochec | April 15, 2013

Yes, I believe the technical name is exhibition of acceleration. You can also get reckless driving if you are "racing" or doing something they deem reckless (spinning tires, etc).

jat | April 15, 2013

It is a judgment call on the part of the officer, so not really something you can fight either.

ArieK | April 15, 2013

The Model S should be your best chance ever of avoiding the kinds of tickets rochec is describing. Old School cars used to make a heck of a lot of noise when revving their engines to get a quick jump of the line as the light goes green.
The Model S is basically a road legal Stealthfighter

riceuguy | April 15, 2013

ArieK, that's my is it an exhibition if it's just a fast but silent car? I know revving and tire squealing constitutes exhibition, but just going fast (but legally so)...I'm not so sure!

BYT | April 15, 2013

If the speed limit is 35 MPH and you just happen to get to that speed in about 2 seconds, is it really illegal? ;)

riceuguy | April 15, 2013

@BYT, exactly my question...only around here, it's 0-65, not 35!

carlk | April 15, 2013

Cops hate nothing more than the stop light drag race. You sure will get a ticket if you're racing another car knowingly or unknowingly. The best time to do it is probably when you're the only car at the stop light.

Ned | April 15, 2013

The practical problem with doing this is people don't expect it and also don't hear you coming. The other day I accelerated fairly rapidly away from a light, and midway down the block someone turned left directly into my lane. I presume they looked, saw how far away I was, and assumed they had time.

And they would have if they had accelerated. What they did instead was look back, see me coming up on them, and slam on the brakes. Dumb dumb dumb.

Fortunately I was able to brake and switch lanes, but it was a lot closer than I would have liked.

BYT | April 15, 2013

Also be careful of jumping out of a light as soon as it turns green, a lot of folks like to run yellow lights and you may clip them when jumping out so quickly.

Velo1 | April 15, 2013

A few weeks ago I was on the pole position at a light leading to the on ramp of Interstate 70 East (Colorado). There was a State Patrol in the car right behind me. When the light turned green, I began a normal acceleration, and then after 10 feet I floored it getting up to 65 mph within ~5 seconds as I entered the Interstate. The State Patrol was way back 200-250 feet, but I kept my speed at 65 mph, which is the limit. The State Patrol quickly closed the gap on me, as I was thinking "rut roh", and then he pulled up along side me in the left-hand lane. He was checking out the car and just staring at me. I gently smiled and nodded my head, and he nodded back.

I was only going 2 miles down the Interstate before my exit and the State Patrol followed me off and onto the exit ramp. I then pulled into a strip mall shortly after the exit. The patrolman saw where I went and come into the parking lot and stopped right behind me. He got out and approached me as I was exiting Joules. He asked "what the hell was that?" I said, do you mean the acceleration? He said "yeah, that is the fastest, smoothest acceleration I have ever seen." I realized he was more curious about the car, than wanting to ticket me, so I relaxed and explained all about the Model S. He said, I wish we had these as patrol cars, as we could close-down the gap on speeders in no time flat.

So I casually asked him, was it okay for me to accelerate from light like that? He said as long as I didn't exceed the speed limit and I wasn't out of control, then it's okay in his mind. He did say, "but that's my interpretation, and you were in control, just getting off the line faster than I have ever seen." I laughed and said I would never drive Joules recklessly :) He left with a smile on his face. I went home, after my errand, and changed my underwear.

PaceyWhitter | April 15, 2013

Depends on the state you live in, some states have an excessive acceleration law. other states may be able to prosecute you via reckless driving statutes.

Don't know about Texas so I couldn't tell you.

Velo1 | April 15, 2013

@BYT has an excellent point. I always do two things (1) make sure I am not stopped on loose gravel or sand, as that would damage the car behind me, and (2) watching cars approaching the intersection from both sides until I know they are stopping. Then hit the go pedal.

keca10 | April 15, 2013

You should enjoy your car (in a safe manner) and that includes enjoying its performance. I don't see anything wrong with flooring it, while accelerating in a straight path to 65 mph. But then again I am not a cop. If a cop wants to be a jerk he can be a jerk about anything.

Don't race or Tokyo drift and you should be fine.

jvanhecke | April 15, 2013

As a former motorcycle cop (i know, boooo), and a current MS owner (yeah), here is some advice on this subject. Speed limits are zoned based on traffic surveys that tell the department of transportation what the speed should be set at. The law is all about safe and unsafe speeds.

The speed limit # is not exactly what the officer will look for, it is really all about what is safe. Safe is determined by the conditions and can include the type of roadway, lighting, weather, pedestrians and even the type of vehicle. i.e. an 80's pickup truck, with 30 pallets stacked in the bed tied down with rope may only be safe to travel at 30mph in a 35mph zone and could be considered to be a good violation at 35-40mph. A MS in that same zone could be considered safe at 40-50 because of its ability to handle and brake safely. (except freeways and school zones, there the # is the limit)

But as said before its really going to be a judement call on the part of the officer. It all comes down to making sure you dont get into a heinous collision.

As far as accelerating up to the speed limit from a light. There are laws about exhibition of speed as well as unsafe starting. These again will come down to judging if you were unsafe and not so much about the mph. These types of violations are usually from the loud muscle types or little racer cars and tend to attract attention from loud exahust and loss of traction. Since your MS will be silent and your tires will not slip, most quick take offs will be of no concern.

Another thing to be aware of is cross traffic. Quick acceleration from a light is one of the leading ways to get t-boned from cross traffic that either caught the end of the yellow or ran a red. Know that if you catch a yellow light by the front of your vehicle passing the limit line before it phases to red you are good to proceed all the way through and thus have the right of way. If you are sitting at a red in your MS and rocket away on the green and get hit from the side it could end up being your fault. So, please do this, look left and right, then left again before you accelerate. Its like crossing the street on foot when you were a kid. It just might save you one day.

Here is what I do. I step on that accelerator and I love to rocket away whenever possible. But... I check my surroundings, I look for pedestrians, bicyclists, other cars that could be a hazard and I check for cross traffic before I go. Your vehicle limitations are going to be top rate in a MS and if you understand your own limitations you will drive in control. Accidents happen when you exceed your ability or your vehicle's limits. Be careful.

Velo1 | April 15, 2013

The great thing about the Model S is that you can sit after the light turns green for a second or two, to ensure it's safe to accelerate. In an ICE car one often tries to anticipate a green or stares at the light and hits it upon turning green without really focusing on cross traffic.

Great advise and insight by jvanhecke, and no booing please. To protect and serve!

carlk | April 15, 2013

"He said, I wish we had these as patrol cars, as we could close-down the gap on speeders in no time flat."

That's a thought.

jdb | April 15, 2013

Interesting thread. Be careful accellerating in dark. It was well before dawn, 5:30am, no moon, very light traffic, at stop sign, no one ahead, commercial three lane road, when light turned i accellerated quickly to speed limit of 50 (took all of about 3 seconds). Police car came out of dark behind me with lights flashing, pulled me over. Very nice female cop. Asked me what i was doing accellerating so quickly? Said I was trying out new car, with no traffic. She said that she pulled me over not for speeding but because she was so shocked at the sudden accelleration she thought that I was trying to get away from her police vehicle. Never even saw her. She smiled, asked a few questions about the vehicle, said be careful with new electric car and drove off.

DonS | April 15, 2013

Just keep traction traction control on. Wheel spin will get you lots of undesirable attention.

Laryrob | April 15, 2013

In most states the charge w/b "driving too fast for conditions" which gets the law around proving the "not exceeding the posted limit " prohibition. Much harder for police to prove(radar works against them)and hard for them to convince a judge unless you hit somethng or are in a school zone. Should never be a problem when entering a highway.

riceuguy | April 15, 2013

Sounds like the on ramp will be my friend! Of course, here in Texas, the vast majority of on ramps are from straight feeder roads, so you can flat out floor it without worrying about a cloverleaf (though cloverleafs--or is it cloverleaves?--are fun, too!).

carlk | April 15, 2013

Yes cloverleaf is fun. That's when you'll appreciate performance plus.

aaronw2 | April 15, 2013

I accelerated rather hard in front of a cop on a local street (and I knew he was behind me). He followed me on the freeway until the last city exit. Of course I never exceeded the speed limit but he was watching me closely.

I also tend to hang back a second or two to make sure it's safe before hand.

jbunn | April 15, 2013

I tend to get to the limit but not over rather quickly. Being quiet, and with traction control, I don't attract much attention.

I'll say though, getting to, but not over the limit requires split second timing. The difference between legal 40 and illegal 45 is a split second or so.

JimBl | April 15, 2013


quick side bar: thanks for being a cop. Like being a teacher, its under valued, but so important.

jvanhecke | April 16, 2013

Your welcome. I appreciate that.

mrrjm | January 18, 2015


garygid | January 20, 2015

jvan... +5 more.
Thanks for your service, a really tough job.
Cheers, Gary

WØQR | January 20, 2015

It's called careless driving.

Haggy | January 20, 2015

My wife decided to test out the MS to see how fast it goes from a standstill. It seemed out of character for her and I wasn't there at the time. I was waiting for her to come home and checked the app, and it showed her stopped in a location where it wouldn't have made sense to be stopped, and apparently off to the side of the road. I was hoping it wasn't a flat tire or accident. It turned out to be the very subjective "driving too fast for conditions." The cop also claimed that the speed limit was lower than it was, but that's another story.

As far as driving too fast for conditions, I was recently in my neighborhood on a local street. There was a young woman who was parked on the street and was doing something with her door open and she was outside facing the car. I made sure to leave a wide distance between us and slowed down to about 10 mph. She turned around for unrelated reasons and practically jumped into the air. It's one thing to have no engine sound. But if you are slow enough, there's no road noise either. A "normal" speed would have been too fast for road conditions.

I don't know what the proper etiquette should have been in that situation. Honking would have been obnoxious, keeping my speed would have left the road noise but would have been dangerous, and sneaking up on her like a pouncing leopard (didn't want to say jaguar) was startling.

murphyS90D | January 20, 2015


You could roll down a window and turn the music up to get her attention.

Haggy | January 20, 2015

I should have thought of that. Then she could stare at the old guy who plays unhip music. I have no idea what I was listening to at that time, but my tastes tend to be esoteric. It's one thing if I had been playing a classical concerto at the time, but it would have been entirely different if it had been Frank Zappa screaming "you're an asshole!"

Roadster22 | March 21, 2016

I would love for people to respond with their opinions. I was at a light and after careful inspection I floored my P85D from 0-30ish. I was in an area with single lanes and stores and enough cars ahead that I wasn't able to go to far before coming to another car that had previously turned ahead of me. I noticed police car lights approaching from behind so I pulled over.
The Police officer stated " He could take my license that moment and I was destroying state property by accelerating that fast." I was told I wasn't getting a ticket and that " I should NEVER accelerate from a stop again!" Once I knew I wasn't getting a ticket I gently asked this, in my opinion confused officer, what he was thinking. He told me that "he heard me destroying the pavement and I was destroying the paint on the road".
Let me be clear. I was making absolutely no noise and he heard nothing for sure, the roads were dry and the car didn't spin out at all. I wasn't on painted lines and was well before any crosswalk. His argument about noise and destruction of property was absurd in my mind. He also in my opinion was incorrect about being able to take away my license. I wanted to call another officer over or the police Dept. to inform them about Tesla cars and how they accelerate vs other cars needing to spin tires etc.

What are your thoughts?

tes-s | March 21, 2016

My thoughts are they have a pen and ticket book, and can give you a ticket if they want to.

They also have a gun.

jordanrichard | March 21, 2016

"destroy state property.........."? that's a new one. I can see that happening if the road was dirt or made of cobble stones that get kicked up, but not pavement.

Did he say why he wasn't giving you a ticket? Sure seems odd to go from being so irate to say that he could take your license away to letting you off the hook completely.

SamO | March 21, 2016

cops love to make up shit. they are just like regular folks.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just not their own facts.

f3rretus | March 21, 2016



-Gman- | March 21, 2016

Roadster22: "...I wanted to call another officer over or the police Dept. to inform them about Tesla cars..."

Cops don't want to be informed by you.
They want a 'yes sir' and an 'I'm sorry, sir".
Anything else is 'sass' and petty tyrants really don't like sass.

Run4Waffles | March 21, 2016

It's all BS. Say "Yes sir" and "Sorry officer" and move along.

They have a very difficult job. They don't know if they will return home that night. Be courteous and thankful. They don't know who you are or if the car is stolen or full of drugs or whatever.

Silver2K | March 21, 2016

I believe it's "exhibition of speeding"

Silver2K | March 21, 2016


you better be careful my tesla know-it-all! I don't want to have to pay extra in my taxes to repaint the sh!t you erased!

if you didn't laugh for 10 minutes after he left......

barrykmd | March 21, 2016

If you wanted to be a smart ass, you could have asked the cop if trucks are permitted on that road. If yes, then ask him if he's aware that road wear increases exponentially with vehicle weight.

Tropopause | March 21, 2016

He let you go because you are not a "bad guy". Be happy.

As Run4Waffles said, Police Officers have a difficult job of discerning between good and bad people. It takes a toll on them over time.

Silver2K | March 21, 2016

also if you get ""exhibition of speeding"" ticket on a motorcycle, it means you were busted doing a wheelie... how do I know this?

no comment

Tropopause | March 21, 2016

SilverP85plus, no wheelies in your Tesla!

Silver2K | March 21, 2016

I got a ticket recently and got a huge break at the same time in duchess county, ny. I got pulled over doing 79 in a 55 but I was actually moving with traffic even though I was leading it. the officer did not give me a ticket for doing 79, instead he gave me a ticket for not having my plate installed in the front of the vehicle. he asked why I didn't have it installed and told him my neighbor and father in law (retired police officer) said don't drill the nose, no one will ticket you for that.

we talked for a bit about life after he handed me the ticket. he was really a nice guy but I think his supervisor was around and had to ticket me. I have a pba card and sheriffs sticker in my window.

Silver2K | March 21, 2016


so remove the wheelie bar?
son of a....

buchholtz3 | March 21, 2016

@silver: I got pulled over for ONLY having no front plate. He was very cool about it when I showed him the plate was in the frunk and I showed him how it attached immediately via magnets. I was in scrubs and headed to work. I showed him the trunk area and answered questions about the car. He seemed satisfied that this 46 year old female wasn't running pot to Wyoming. I received just a warning, but I have been careful to keep the plate on since, especially since I pass the State Patrol HQ on the way to work....

Roadster22 | March 21, 2016

He called my plate in and since I had no previous speeding history (I have been lucky) he just felt the need to lecture me. I received just the warning and no paperwork or ticket at all. I too have no front plate but he never saw that.
I rarely speed but I do get enjoyment of the fast acceleration so I will just have to be more careful of my surroundings when I do what Tesla cars allow us to do!

Tropopause | March 21, 2016

When we all go fully autonomous, this will no longer be an issue. Ludicrous launches will be a thing of the past. :)

ragtopday | March 21, 2016

I guess it depends on the state laws. I retied as a cop in NY back in 1990 and do not remember what the exact section of the law was but it was legal. I only wrote one ticket for that offense in 20 years