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Refusing to Stop for Police

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Can I Refuse to Stop for Police?

If a police officer requests that an individual pull over, under no circumstances can they refuse to stop. Even if that person believes the police officer has no reason to pull them over, they must do so on request. As long as the police officer can establish probable cause of any law, ordinance, or safety code, then the stop is legal. Best practice is for the driver to find a safe place to pull over and have the officer explain why they are stopping them.

Is Refusing to Stop a Misdemeanor?

Whether refusing to stop is considered a felony, misdemeanor, or a "slap on the wrist" depends largely on the driver’s actions. For example, regardless of whether the driver means to be evasive, leading the police on a high-speed chase will be a felony. By contrast, simply not noticing the lights of the patrol car in the rearview mirror may elicit a warning from the officer. It is not uncommon for reckless driving and other charges to be brought against drivers who refuse to stop for police officers.

What Are the Punishments for Refusing to Stop?

If a driver refuses to stop for a police officer upon request, the officer will most likely assume the driver is in a serious violation of the law. The idea the officer will have is "if you have nothing to hide, why wouldn’t the driver simply stop?" After all, it is always possible to contest a ticket or an illegal stop after the fact. Refusing to stop will only lead to negative consequences such as:

  • Drivers license suspended or restricted
  • Restitution and other fines
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Potential jail time

 How Can an Attorney Help Me?

Police officers need to be respected because of their authoritative status. However, because they are human, police officers make mistakes. Even if you believe that a police officer is pulling you over improperly, refusing to stop will only make matters worse. After the incident, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights and defenses and whether you can challenge the stop in court.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-27-2016 10:54 PM PDT

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