Attempting To Elude A DUI In Virginia
While being pulled over for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can result in serious charges, the charges for attempting to elude a DUI in Virginia can be even more severe. If you are facing charges for attempting to elude a DUI, our legal team may be able to help. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall have defended many clients against DUI charges, and we may use our experience and knowledge to fight for your legal rights and try to minimize the penalties you receive. Call us at 703-934-0101 to set up a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Virginia criminal lawyers.
Eluding the Police
Under Virginia Code § 46.2-817, it is against the law to try to elude the police. However, there are multiple ways to “elude” the police, and each of these charges may each carry different sentences depending on the severity. For all of these offenses, however, you may lose your license for up to a year or receive a jail sentence.
Disregarding the Signal
The law specifies that anyone who received a visible or audible signal from the police to stop their motor vehicle and willfully and wantonly disregards the signal is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. In other words, if you do not stop your vehicle and continue driving, or if you are actually attempting to run away from the police, either on foot or by car, but no one is harmed in the process, that is a Class 2 misdemeanor and the lowest-level form of eluding the police.
Possible jail sentence of up to six months, and/or
A fine of up to $1,000
Interfering or Endangering
Anyone who willfully and wantonly disregards a police signal, and in the process, interferes with the police vehicle or endangers another person may be charged with a Class 6 felony.
Punishment for a Class 6 felony under Virginia Code § 18.2-10 may include:
One to five years in prison, or
At the discretion of the jury or court, up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
Police Officer Is Killed
There is a special rule for when a police officer is killed in pursuit of a suspect. If, in attempting to elude a DUI in Virginia, an officer is killed while pursuing you, then you may be charged with a Class 4 felony. This is the most severe form of eluding the police.
Punishment for a Class 4 felony may include:
Two to 10 years in prison
A fine of up to $100,000
Defenses to Attempting to Elude an Officer
The law provides for one specific affirmative defense to all of the attempting to elude laws, which is that if the driver reasonably believed they were being pursued by someone other than law enforcement. In other words, if the driver was being followed by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked car, and the signal to pull over was merely a hand signal, the court may find that the person reasonably did not believe that the officer was law enforcement. There is no duty to stop when a civilian signals you to pull over.
Another defense is that you did not receive the signal. The law specifies that not only must the officer give the signal, but the driver must receive it. If the signal to pull over was not obvious or conspicuous, an experienced attorney may be able to show that you were not attempting to elude the officer, but you merely did not receive his inconspicuous signal.
Penalties for a DUI
Remember that you can be prosecuted both for attempting to elude and a subsequent DUI, so it is in your best interest to pull over when you are signaled by the police. In Virginia, a driver is guilty of a DUI when they operate a vehicle:
With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher
Under the influence of alcohol, even without a BAC of .08% or higher
Under the influence of narcotic drugs
While under the influence of some combination of alcohol and narcotic drugs impairing their ability to drive
While penalties for a DUI can be severe, a first-time DUI offense is punishable by a $250 fine and a license revocation for up to a year. A second-time DUI offense includes a mandatory $500 fine, a driver’s license revocation for three years, and jail time up to 12 months. A third offense within ten years includes an indefinite driver’s license revocation, a minimum $1,000 fine, and prosecution as a Class 6 felony.
Compared with the potential penalties for attempting to elude a police officer, the penalty for a first-time DUI in Virginia is relatively minor. The potential harm of trying to run away from the police and endangering yourself and others is not worth the risk.
Lasting Consequences of a Felony Conviction
If you are convicted of attempting to elude an officer, there is a possibility that it will be prosecuted as a felony, especially if anyone suffers any kind of injury in the process. In Virginia, there are lifelong consequences to having a felony conviction on your record, even after you have served your sentence. It can be difficult to find employment, as your criminal record will appear on background checks. Professional licenses may be revoked, and you may not be eligible for public housing. You may also lose other important rights, like the right to vote or own a firearm.
Speak with our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
At the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall, we understand that people make mistakes and firmly believe people deserve a second chance. If you are facing charges for attempting to elude a DUI in Virginia, we may be able to help. We have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system, which helps us as we fight tirelessly to protect the legal rights of criminal defendants. Call us at 703-934-0101 to set up a free consultation and tell us more about your case. Trust our experienced lawyers to fight by your side.