Fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer is a very serious offense in Georgia, even if it was unintentional. When people see the flashing lights behind them, they begin to panic and their initial reaction may be flight or fight. Instead of fighting police officers, people end up running from them, making the situation even worse.
Circumstances, where people flee from officers, include: when they are driving on a suspended license, when they are driving under the influence, when drugs are in the vehicle, or there is a warrant out for their arrest. Whenever an officer signals or instructs you to pull over, you should comply with that officer. If you fail to pull over, you risk being charged with fleeing or attempting to elude the police.
What Constitutes Fleeing or Eluding in Georgia?
O.C.G.A. §40-6-395(a) states it shall be unlawful for any driver of a vehicle willfully to fail or refuse to bring his or her vehicle to a stop or otherwise to flee or attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle or police officer when given a visual or an audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop. The signal given by the police officer may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren. The officer giving such signal shall be in uniform prominently displaying his or her badge of office, and his or her vehicle shall be appropriately marked showing it to be an official police vehicle.
Based on the statute, the signal does not have to be flashing blue lights; it can also be an officer telling you to pull over or motioning to pull over.
The Penalty for Fleeing or Eluding in Georgia
A first conviction for fleeing or eluding arrest in Georgia will be treated as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The fine will be between $500 and $5,000, and the jail term could be between 10 days and twelve months. A second conviction in 10 years will elevate the fine to no less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 and no less than 30 days in jail, up to one year. For a third or subsequent conviction within 10 years, the fine will be between $2,500 and $5,000 and the minimum jail time is 90, and the maximum is 12 months.
However, there are situations where the accused will be charged with a felony:
- This can occur when the person fleeing or attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle or police officer:
- Operates his or her vehicle in excess of 20 miles an hour above the posted speed limit;
- Strikes or collides with another vehicle or a pedestrian;
- Flees in traffic conditions, which place the general public at risk of receiving serious injuries;
- Commits a violation of paragraph (5) of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-391; or
- Leaves the state
If any of these occur, the crime will be categorized as a felony with a punishment of a fine up to $5,000, a prison term between one and five years, or both. O.C.G.A. §40-6-395(5)(A).
How Can a Georgia Attorney Help Me?
If you have been charged with evading arrest, there are several defenses our Georgia Lawyers can use to fight your case. One such defense is that it was an unlawful stop. If there was to make a stop, then the fact that you may have fled the scene becomes irrelevant.
Another potential defense is that the signal to pull you over was not clear. If you were unaware he was signaling you, that might be a defense. However, you will need the assistance of a skilled attorney to prepare the strongest defense possible.
Fleeing or eluding from a law enforcement officer in Georgia is a very serious crime. You need the assistance of an experience Georgia Attorney. Contact our office for a free case evaluation.