North Carolina Operating a Motor Vehicle to Elude Arrest

Also known as fleeing to elude arrest, it’s considered a misdemeanor or felony offense under North Carolina driving law to operate a vehicle to avoid apprehension. While it’s illegal for motorists on North Carolina public roads to speed in order to get away from law enforcement officers, penalties will vary depending on the severity of the allegations.

Even if you feel you were justified to flee, it’s crucial to have legal representation. If convicted of failing to heed, you potentially face hefty fines at the court’s discretion or between 45 days to 88 months in jail.

What Constitutes Speeding to Evade Apprehension in North Carolina?

You’re required, by law, to safely come to a complete stop when police sirens appear behind you, signaling you to pull over. If you fail to stop as required by traffic police performing their duties, you can face serious charges in North Carolina. Although often confused with resisting arrest, resisting obstruction, and failure to stop for blue light and siren, operating a motor vehicle to elude arrest is a separate criminal offense in North Carolina.

To demonstrate that a motorist fled to escape capture by an on-duty police officer under Chapter 20, Motor Vehicles Article 1, Division of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV), a prosecutor must prove:

  • The offender was the one operating the said vehicle
  • Presence of a police officer who was trying to apprehend the defendant
  • The defendant attempted to flee or fled to avoid capture by law enforcement

If you’re being investigated for a failure to heed offense, consult a criminal defense attorney because prosecutors may include other charges, such as obstructing law enforcement and resisting arrest.

North Carolina’s Run and You’re Done Law

Passed in 2011 by the North Carolina council, the “run and you’re done” law was intended to outlaw fleeing from the police to stop them from carrying out their duties. When such an offense occurs during the commission of another crime, additional charges can be brought up against the at-fault motorist. Fleeing to elude arrest is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, but it can turn into a Class H felony where more than two of the following aggravating factors were at play:

  • You were driving more than 15 mph above the stipulated speed limit
  • The DMV had revoked your driving privileges at the time of the incident
  • You were driving over the speed limit and passed a stopped school bus, around a school zone or work zone
  • You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.14% under North Carolina DWI/DUI sentencing is considered a gross impairment
  • You were operating a motor vehicle to elude arrest with a minor below 12 years
  • You were driving recklessly and caused an accident that resulted in more than $1,000 worth of property damage or hurt someone

Convictions for a Class H felony misdemeanor can lead to up to 1 year in jail. For a fleeing offense with two aggravating factors, the guilty driver faces up to 2 years of jail time and 39 months in prison, including fines for felonies with three or more aggravating factors. If the Class 1 misdemeanor of speeding off to evade capture offense ended in a fatality with two or more Class H aggravating factors, it becomes a Class H felony. The fatality and penalties of a Class E felony are punishable by up to 7 years in jail and fines set at the court’s discretion.

In addition to the possible imprisonment, you would also have a permanent criminal record that could affect many aspects of your life. An incarceration record can significantly affect your chances of landing a good job, obtaining housing assistance, or acquiring professional licenses. If you face these charges, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at King Law may help you build a solid defense to achieve the best possible outcome.

Reasonable Defenses to Combat Fleeing to Elude Arrest Allegations

Under North Carolina traffic law, motorists are prohibited from evading a law enforcement officer while driving on all public roads. However, depending on the particulars of your case, two defenses can be raised to cast reasonable doubt that either lessen the charges or pardon you.

Your King Law criminal defense lawyer will determine whether a general criminal defense or a defense specific to a fleeing violation is most applicable to your case. With these two defense categories, your lawyer may argue the following:

  • Self-defense, asserting you fled the scene because you were afraid for your life
  • Plead the absence of aggravating factors to reduce the fleeing charges against you
  • Question the arresting capacity of the police officer, stating that they tried to stop you in their private capacity or you did not know the law enforcement officer was acting in an official capacity
  • Argue a lack of knowledge defense suggesting that you weren’t aware the law enforcement officer was pulling you over. For example, if you
    were driving fast on a busy expressway and saw a police car following a line of cars behind you, it would be impossible to know who is being pulled over

Even though these defenses must be substantiated with sufficient facts to be effective, their applicability to your case will be based on the information you provide to your lawyer. Always provide relevant and corroborative evidence to ensure the best chances of a positive outcome. Whether you were eluding arrest due to a traffic violation, felony, or misdemeanor charge, consult the services of a qualified North Carolina criminal defense attorney to get the charges lessened or dismissed.

Build a Strong Case With an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending a fleeing-to-elude arrest charge is a job best left to our competent lawyers at King Law. Our defense team is licensed to practice criminal law in North and South Carolina and has years of experience helping our clients achieve favorable case outcomes.

If you’ve been charged with operating a motor vehicle to escape an arrest and need expert legal representation, allow us to defend your case and possibly avoid a costly conviction or secure a lesser sentence. Please call (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING, or fill out our contact form to schedule a comprehensive consultation.