What do you do when a police officer either calls out for you to stop moving or pulls up behind your vehicle and flashes its lights?
Most people probably will stop – but not everybody. Some people panic and run or drive off for no clear reason at all, probably simply because they’re intimidated and scared. Others try to evade law enforcement because they fear being arrested.
While leading the police on a chase is a crime in Alabama, it’s currently only a Class A misdemeanor offense (unless the flight leads to a bystander’s injury or death). That means the maximum criminal sentence is just a year in the county jail. However, that may soon change.
New bill is expected to increase consequences for a police chase
A bill, widely supported by law enforcement associations, has been working its way through the state’s legislature since March that would make fleeing from the police a Class C felony even if nobody is injured. (If someone is hurt, that charge would escalate to a Class B felony.) Authorities say that the measure is necessary to protect the public from unnecessary police pursuits when suspects try to escape arrest.
This means that merely running from the police could net you up to 10 years in prison – even if you did nothing else wrong. That’s serious time, and the bill is widely expected to pass and be signed into law by the governor despite opposition from those who say it has too much potential for abuse.
Understanding the law is key to knowing your rights in any given situation. If you’ve made a mistake, exploring all your potential defenses is wise.