Broward County

A 95-mph street race turned deadly. Did man’s driving record predict tragedy?

Maxx Bernstein
Maxx Bernstein

The Coral Springs man accused of killing an 80-year-old man in August after a 95-mph BMW vs. motorcycle race through a Pompano Beach neighborhood had a suspended driver’s license — and a history that includes $1,500 in fines and nine citations for moving violations.

The first one: racing on a highway and careless driving, in 2007. Maxx Bernstein, 29, was acquitted in that case by a judge.

Bernstein has pleaded not guilty to the current charges of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless driving with personal injury and property damage, driving with a suspended license, financial responsibility, and driving more than 50 mph over the speed limit.

Broward sheriff’s investigators say Bernstein actually exceeded the speed limit by 60 mph as he blew east on the Northeast 14th Street Causeway on Aug. 18. Witnesses told police that Bernstein, in his 2015 BMW M4, was racing a motorcycle.

The race, witnesses said, ended at Northeast 27th Terrace, when Bernstein smashed into the Lexus driven by Pompano Beach resident James Stewart as Stewart turned left onto 27th Terrace from westbound 14th Street.

The impact drove both cars into a massive concrete power pole. “The pole became completely dislodged from its base, appearing to be held up only by powerlines,” according to the arrest report.

Stewart died on the street. Bernstein was treated for injuries at Broward Health North and released. He surrendered to the Broward Sheriff’s Office on Sunday.

Of his nine tickets for moving violations, Bernstein has been acquitted twice. In addition to the 2007 incident, in Coral Springs, there were tickets for failure to use care and driving with a suspended license from an April 23, 2014, three-car crash.

Despite the drivers of the other two cars telling police Bernstein caused the crash with reckless and hostile driving and the BSO deputy on the scene saying that Bernstein caused the crash, a traffic hearing officer dismissed both tickets.

Bernstein’s other driving tickets:

▪ 2009, failure to use care. He received a $150 fine and had to go to traffic school.

▪ 2011, using the HOV lane when driving solo. He was fined $165.

▪ 2012, speeding, 59 mph in a 35 mph zone. He paid a $276 fine.

▪ 2014, making a left turn from the right lane. He paid a $248 fine.

▪ 2014, speeding, 87 mph in a 65 mph zone on Florida’s Turnpike. This was 30 days after the above three-car crash. Bernstein paid a $235 fine.

▪ 2016, running a red light at the corner of Sample Road and Coral Ridge Road. He paid a $263 fine.

▪ 2016, failure to use designated lane. He paid a $165 fine.

Bernstein remains in Broward County jail on $100,425 bond.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal