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The serious legal consequences of evading Alabama police

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | Criminal Law

No one likes to see a police car behind them with lights and sirens and officers motioning for them to pull over. However, sometimes if a driver knows that they or one of their passengers is facing potential arrest – or even if they’ve had bad experiences with police in the past – they panic and decide to try to evade officers.

Police pursuits of fleeing vehicles, particularly when they reach high speeds, can be dangerous to anyone on or near the road. Between 1996 and 2015, Alabama had more police pursuit-related fatalities than any other state.

When is evading police a felony?

Evading police is illegal, even if someone hasn’t broken any other laws. Last year, Alabama law was strengthened so that a driver who flees an attempted police stop is more likely to face a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor than in the past.

Specifically, fleeing police in a vehicle is a felony if at least one of the following things occurs:

  • The driver exceeds the speed limit by at least 20 miles per hour.
  • The driver crosses the Alabama state line.
  • Anyone is injured or killed because of the chase (including surrounding motorists or pedestrians).

Prior to the change in the law, only the last circumstance resulted in a felony charge. The others were misdemeanors.

Law enforcement officers and others throughout the state advocated for making evading police a more serious crime. As one Tuscaloosa officer said, police stops are often “something minor that can be taken care of on the side of the road or thirty minutes at the courthouse. Not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”

Making police chase you is never going to make things better. It’s often just postponing the inevitable arrest. In nearly every case, it’s better to comply and then to get legal guidance to protect your rights.