More Alabama drivers can face felony charges for evading police

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Seeing a police car behind you with its lights and sirens on can be stressful experience – particularly if the officers inside are indicating that you, not another motorist, should pull over. If you’ve done something wrong that’s more serious than a traffic violation, this scenario can be particularly terrifying.

Some people make the mistake of trying to flee from police rather than stop. That rarely ends well for them, but in the moment, they think that’s their best option. Some fear a police encounter based on past experience or encounters that have made the news or happened to friends or family.

Police chases too often turn deadly

Police chases of drivers trying to evade them can be dangerous for anyone who happens to be on or near the road. When these chases reach excessive speeds, they can result in injuries and death. In fact, between 1996 and 2015, Alabama “led” the nation in pursuit-related fatalities. Increasingly, law enforcement agencies across the country have enacted regulations that limit the circumstances under which officers can continue to pursue a suspect. Yet, states are also making it increasingly clear that those who evade police can face severe consequences.

For example, last year, Alabama took the step of changing the law so that it’s more likely for someone to face a felony rather than a misdemeanor charge for fleeing from police. That’s on top of whatever other charges they may have been facing before they decided not comply with a stop.

What are the changes to the law?

Drivers can face felony charges if while they’re attempting to evade police:

  • They exceed the speed limit by at least 20 miles per hour.
  • They injure or kill someone.
  • They drive across state lines.

Previously, the crime could only be charged as a felony if someone was injured or killed during the chase.

Police agencies advocated for the change to help protect public safety. They hope that the possibly of a felony will encourage drivers to think twice before deciding to try to evade police. As one Tuscaloosa officer noted, the initial attempt at a stop in many of these cases is for “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.”

If you’re facing any kind of criminal charge, trying to evade police is probably only going to make things worse for you. Even if you fear a police encounter, making them chase you will likely increase the chances that it ends badly when they catch up to you. A better course of action is to get legal guidance as soon as possible.