Disregarding a Police Officer’s Signal (Eluding)

In Virginia, eluding police (Va. Code §46.2-817) is disregarding a police officer’s signal to stop.  It can be a misdemeanor or a felony and is punishable by jail (or prison), fines, and mandatory driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Virginia Code §46.2-817 reads:

A. 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. It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of a violation of this subsection if the defendant shows he reasonably believed he was being pursued by a person other than a law-enforcement officer.
B. 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 so as to interfere with or endanger the operation of the law-enforcement vehicle or endanger a person is guilty of a Class 6 felony. It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of a violation of this subsection if the defendant shows he reasonably believed he was being pursued by a person other than a law-enforcement officer.
C. If a law-enforcement officer pursues a person as a result of a violation of subsection B and the law-enforcement officer is killed as a direct and proximate result of the pursuit, the person who violated subsection B is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
D. When any person is convicted of an offense under this section, in addition to the other penalties provided in this section, the driver’s license of such person shall be suspended by the court for a period of not less than thirty days nor more than one year. However, in any case where the speed of such person is determined to have exceeded the maximum allowed by twenty miles per hour, his driver’s license shall be suspended by the court trying the case for a period of not less than ninety days. In case of conviction and suspension, the court or judge shall order the surrender of the license to the court, which shall dispose of it in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-398.
E. Violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. If the acts or activities violating this section also violate another provision of law, a prosecution under this section shall not prohibit or bar any prosecution or proceeding under such other provision or the imposition of any penalties provided for thereby.

What does the prosecutor have to prove?

To prove that a driver is guilty of misdemeanor eluding the Commonwealth must prove 1) the driver received a visible or audible signal from the police to bring his vehicle to a stop; and 2) that the driver drove the vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard of the signal OR that the driver attempts to escape or elude the police, whether on foot or in a vehicle.

To prove that a driver is guilty of felony eluding the Commonwealth must prove 1) the driver received a visible or audible signal from the police to bring his vehicle to a stop; and 2) that the driver drove the vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard of the signal so as to interfere with or endanger the operation of the law enforcement vehicle or endanger a person.

Penalties

  1. Misdemeanor Eluding is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable with up to 6 months in jail, a fine up to $1000, and driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 30 days, up to 12 months.  However, if the offender was driving more than 20 miler per hour over the posted speed limit while eluding police, his driver’s license must be suspended for a minimum of 90 days and can be suspended up to 12 months (Va. Code §46.2-817(C)).
  2. Felony Eluding is a Class 6 felony, punishable with up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $2500, and driver’s license revocation for 1 year (Va. Code §46.2-817, Va. Code §46.2-389(A)(5)).

Collateral Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties associated with a conviction for eluding, other collateral consequences are also at play. Insurance premiums are likely to increase.  Your education or employment opportunities may be hindered: if you are subject to a background check for employment, security clearance, or immigration, an eluding conviction could affect your future.

If you find yourself charged with eluding in Virginia, contact an experienced Virginia traffic defense attorney. An initial consultation with a TATE BYWATER attorney is complimentary.  We’ll discuss your case and work with you to obtain the best possible outcome.  We’re here to help!