If the police ask you to pull over, find a safe location, decelerate, and bring your vehicle to a complete stop on the side of the road. Intentionally ignoring audio and visual cues — lights and sirens — is a crime known as “eluding the police.” If you are arrested for this offense, depending on the circumstances, you could face misdemeanor or even felony charges. In many cases, eluding the police is another charge on top of other infractions or criminal offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, etc. If you are charged with eluding the police in Virginia, be polite and cooperate with law enforcement. Next, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Virginia law 46.2-817
According to Virginia law, “Any person who, having received a visible or audible signal from any law-enforcement officer to bring his motor vehicle to a stop, drives such motor vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard of such signal or who attempts to escape or elude such law-enforcement officer whether on foot, in the vehicle, or by any other means is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.”
The statute further explains that there are four types of offenses related to eluding the police:
- Disregarding the signal to stop — This is the simple offense of failing to stop your vehicle when police signal you to do so. It is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.
- Attempting to escape or elude — Another misdemeanor offense, you may be charged with attempting to escape if you turn away from an officer or accelerate suddenly.
- Interfering with or endangering law enforcement or another person — Once you become a danger to law enforcement, yourself, or other people, the penalties escalate quickly. This offense is a class 6 felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.
- Killing a law enforcement officer — If your attempt to elude police results in the death of an officer, you face class 4 felony charges. A conviction could mean up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Remember, these penalties are in addition to a license suspension or revocation. Eluding the police should not be confused with reckless driving. Also, a misdemeanor offense, reckless driving is speeding in a manner that endangers others. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be charged with both reckless driving and eluding the police.
Contact a knowledgeable Fairfax criminal defense attorney
At The NoVa Law Firm, we fight aggressively to protect the rights of Virginians accused of eluding the police, reckless driving, and other criminal offenses. Whether you need help devising a solid defense strategy, or fighting an unfair traffic infraction, you can count on our 15 plus years of experience. To discuss your case with a skilled criminal law attorney, call (703) 352-9347 or contact us online.