Eluding police in Virginia, as defined by VA Code §46.2-817, involves ignoring a police officer’s directive to halt. This transgression results in potential incarceration, monetary penalties, and mandatory suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. In Virginia, evading police can lead to either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Eluding police in Virginia occurs when an individual doesn’t manage to halt their vehicle upon receiving a police officer’s audible or visual command to do so. This offense can be committed in either of two ways:
1. Operating a motor vehicle with deliberate and reckless disregard for a police officer’s audible or visual command to stop.
2. Trying to evade or escape a police officer after being instructed to pull over, whether by vehicle, on foot, or through other means.
In order to secure a conviction for eluding the police in Virginia as per §46.2-817(A), the Commonwealth needs to establish that the offender purposefully and recklessly ignored a police officer’s signal. This entails proving that the offender not only perceived the signal or noticed the flashing lights but also recognized the person instructing them to halt as a law enforcement officer, yet chose to disregard the signal and continue driving. Alternatively, the Commonwealth can substantiate this offense by presenting evidence that the offender fled on foot after initially stopping their vehicle in response to a police officer’s signal.
In Virginia, evading the police is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. Convictions may result in imprisonment for a potential duration of six months, fines reaching $1000, and a mandatory driver’s license suspension lasting 30 days to 12 months. If the individual exceeds a speed of 20 miles per hour over the posted limit during the evasion, the driver’s license suspension extends to a minimum of 90 days, potentially lasting up to 12 months (as per VA Code §46.2-817(C)).
Police evasion in Virginia escalates to a felony under VA Code §46.2-817(B) if, after receiving a signal to pull over, the offender continues to drive willfully and recklessly, disrupting the police vehicle’s operation or endangering the vehicle itself or any individual, including the offender.
To secure a conviction for felony police evasion in Virginia, the Commonwealth must establish not only the disregard for the police signal but also the endangerment of others. Specific individuals do not need to be identified as endangered. This offense falls as a Class 6 felony, carrying a potential jail time of up to 5 years of imprisonment, fines up to $2500, and a driver’s license revocation for a period of 1 year (VA Code §46.2-817, VA Code §46.2-389(A)(5)).
If a police officer loses their life while chasing a suspect evading the police, the act is deemed a Class 4 felony according to VA Code §46.2-817(C). The penalties include imprisonment for 2-10 years, a fine of up to $100,000, and a one-year revocation of the driver’s license (VA Code §46.2-817(C), Va. Code §46.2-389(A)(5), VA Code §46.2-389(B)).
Reckless driving in Virginia (VA Code §46.2-852) is defined as driving a vehicle in a way that is reckless or at a speed that poses a threat to the life or property of any individual. While evading police encompasses reckless behavior as one of its elements, a driver can still face charges and a conviction for reckless driving in addition to the eluding charge under VA Code §46.2-817. This additional offense can be applied if the driver was operating the vehicle recklessly while evading police or engaged in reckless driving before eluding the police.
In the event that a driver engages in eluding police and commits other criminal or traffic violations, they may face charges and penalties for both eluding police and the additional offenses, according to Virginia Code §46.2-817. In Virginia, it’s not uncommon for drivers charged with eluding police under VA Code §46.2-817 to also face accusations related to various motor vehicle or traffic offenses.