If the police try to pull you over, and you panic and drive away instead of stopping, you risk being arrested for eluding or fleeing the police. Pennsylvania punishes those who flee harshly, and you can face prison, expensive fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. If your flight turns into a high-speed chase, your punishment will be even more severe. It is critical that you retain an experienced defense attorney as soon as you can.
Signs The Police Want You To Pull Over
The police need to give you a clear signal to pull over your vehicle that you can hear and/or see. The signal can be:
Penalties for Eluding or Fleeing the Police
In Pennsylvania, you can be arrested for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer if you intentionally do not pull over when the police signal for you to do so. Eluding or fleeing police is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
High Speed Chase
You can face a more serious felony of the third degree if you:
- Become involved in a high speed chase that puts other motorists or pedestrians in danger
- Cross state lines while the chase is underway
- Are driving under the influence
Defending You on Charges of Eluding or Fleeing Police
One of your strongest potential defenses: if your attorney can show by a preponderance of the evidence that you did not stop right away because you had a good faith concern for your own personal safety.
To prove this, your lawyer will show the court for their consideration:
- The time and location of the attempted stop
- Your behavior while you were being followed by the police
- If you stopped at the first available reasonably lighted or populated place
Your attorney has other strong lines of defense to use on your behalf if these specific circumstances were present:
- The police officer was not wearing a badge or uniform.
- The police car that stopped you was unmarked or not identifiable by its markings.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Eluding or Fleeing Police
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, any driver of a motor vehicle who willfully fails or refuses to bring his vehicle to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude a pursuing police officer, when given a visual and audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop, commits an offense.
Usually eluding or fleeing the police is a misdemeanor of the second degree resulting in a $500 fine and a license suspension. If you flee and elude the police while driving under the influence, crossing state lines, or engaging in a high-speed chase, the charge is treated as a felony of the third degree.
Steps to Take if You’re Charged
Eluding or fleeing the police is a criminal traffic offense, which means that if you’re convicted of it, you will have a permanent criminal record. This could impact your employment, education, auto premiums, and more. If you’ve been charged, you should consider hiring an experienced Pittsburgh criminal traffic lawyer who is familiar with the courts, prosecutors, and the law. He or she can build a defense based on the evidence and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Handling these types of cases on your own or with someone less experienced is not advised.
An experienced attorney will have worked with the prosecutors handling your case many times before. They can draw on their relationships and understanding of the local court system to reduce or dismiss your charges. If you are found guilty, your attorney may also be able to negotiate on your sentence.