Fleeing and Eluding Law Enforcement
As you’re driving along one of Baltimore’s busiest roads, you notice a vehicle following you. With a flash of lights and sirens, you realize an officer is asking you to pull over. You might wonder what you did to trigger a traffic stop, and might even be tempted to act like you didn’t notice the officer’s signal and keep going. Yet, attempting to flee or elude a police officer by failing to stop is a serious traffic charge all by itself.
Fleeing or eluding an officer, sometimes known as “attempting to elude an officer” or AEO, is a fairly common charge. The officer who attempted to conduct the traffic stop must prove that the individual he signaled willfully failed to abide by his or her request. This is an important element that your attorney may be able to challenge. If you’re facing a charge of attempting to elude an officer in Maryland, discover what a traffic lawyer can do to preserve your rights.
Understanding the Crime of Attempting to Elude an Officer
A driver may be charged with attempting to flee and elude an officer when an officer believes the driver ignored their request to pull to the side of the road. This sometimes happens when a driver does not see an officer attempt to pull him over. Officers sometimes fail to give proper signals, which in turn fail to capture drivers’ attention. In some cases, drivers do not recognize officers who are not in uniform.
Not all drivers who keep going after being warned to stop may be charged with attempting to elude an officer. A driver who keeps driving after receiving a signal from an officer (such as flashing lights) because he or she is looking for a safe place to pull over is not attempting to flee or elude the officer.
When a driver receives a signal to stop, however, and starts to speed, drive recklessly, or turns off his lights to avoid detection, the officer may reasonably conclude the driver is attempting to flee or elude him. This driver may then be charged with fleeing and eluding.
Maryland state attorneys prosecute AEO cases. They must carefully consider the nuances of the specific case and prove the following elements to win a conviction:
- The defendant was driving a vehicle.
- The defendant was given a signal to stop the vehicle.
- The police officer was in uniform, and their car was identifiable as a police vehicle.
- The defendant willfully tried to elude the police officer.
Penalties for AEO are severe and are justified by the fact that those who flee and elude place other motorists, pedestrians, and officers in danger when they drive erratically to avoid being caught. Penalties vary depending on the details of the case. Generally, the penalties are:
- First Offense AEO: A fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration of up to 1 year in jail. The Maryland MVA may add 12 license points.
- Second Offense AEO: A fine of up to $2,000 and incarceration of up to 2 years in jail. The MVA may add additional license points.
Attempting to flee and/or elude law enforcement officers is defined in statute TR §21-904 of the Maryland Transportation Code, which also covers related offenses:
- Failing to stop a vehicle
- Fleeing on foot
- Fleeing to avoid arrest for a crime of violence
- Fleeing or eluding resulting in bodily injury or death
The penalties for these offenses vary. Generally speaking, any attempt at fleeing or eluding an officer that results in the injury or death of another motorist will have heightened consequences. A driver whose attempt to flee police caused an injury may face up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the attempt caused a death, the driver could face up to 10 years in prison.
Protect Your Maryland Driver’s License and Freedom
Fleeing and eluding law enforcement is a grave charge, but there are many reasons to be hopeful for a positive case result. Attorney Hillel Traub of The Law Office of Hillel Traub has decades of experience fighting all traffic charges, from payable offenses to serious must-appear crimes such as fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers. Allow him to investigate the facts of your case and construct a sound defense that will help you preserve your freedom.
In addition to defending Maryland residents against traffic charges, he’s also worked as a former Assistant Attorney General for the MVA, meaning that he understands the organization’s decision-making process, which can lead to a suspended license or a tarnished driving record. With his help, he can protect your license so you can keep driving legally.
Contact our office for a free consultation by calling (410) 580-1100 or complete our contact form.